Union Free School District
- Hastings-on-Hudson U.F.S.D.
Farragut Middle School Students Spark Courageous Conversations in the Classroom
Every other day, students at Farragut Middle School are able to enter a classroom for lessons unlike any other. Delving into current events and discussing race and social justice, the students are finding the courage to hold conversations that are often avoided.
The courageous conversations class is taken by all students starting in sixth grade extending to eighth and offers them the opportunity to not only learn about difficult topics in everyday life but to learn strategies to discuss them in their own voice.
“I think it really educates us more and it's not like other classes,” said student Gavin Hoffman.
Ezra Elliott, teacher for the eighth grade courageous conversations class, often sparks the conversation for his students, enabling and encouraging them to speak on every issue. The curriculum stretches from institutional racism, the history of race, and combating stereotypes to sexism, immigration, and allyship in an effort to expose students and give them the confidence to talk about issues facing society.
“I think it is especially important today,” he said. “Teaching students at a relatively young age how to be reflective and how to be anti-racist.”
For eighth graders in their final year of the class, the conversations have been constant in both small and class-wide discussions. While the students learn topics through text and media, they also analyze their place in current events.
“It’s an important course,” said Hoffman. “If we aren’t educated to the problems in the world then we are blind to them.”
Holding open conversation over many of the issues each session, they also learn the ways to change them and use their voice in difficult situations. Their lessons and discussions culminate in a final “action research project” where the students explore a particular issue and present it to the class with the goal of taking action and educating on the topic.
“Going out and getting involved is a big part of what the class is about,” said Elliott. “One of the great things about this place is that people aren’t afraid to put themselves out there and that’s something the kids here have embraced.”