Building Community

Enemies Become Friends

While sitting in an airport waiting for yet another delayed flight, I noticed (how could I not) the television screens. They were broadcasting a story about a police department (I’m not sure where) that dedicated a whole team to community outreach. These officers realized that if they were going to be seen as helpful, friendly public servants, instead of the enemy, they had to interact in the community in positive ways; they couldn’t just show up when there was a problem. So they started hanging out with people. They organized a youth football league and coached it.

“Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy to a friend” — Martin Luther King, Jr.

That story stuck out to me because it was such a simple, obvious, important approach to breaking down barriers of prejudice and mistrust. They didn’t call an assembly or make a new policy. They just got to know people. They saw a problem and they took action.

The Problem Solution Project

Speaking of taking action, check out this lesson. I found this lesson plan idea called the Problem-Solution Project on the National Park Service, Martin Luther King, Jr National Historic Site site. What I really like about this activity is that the students are prompted to come up with social issues they are aware of and then work together to find an actionable solution. I recommend giving it a look; it could easily be adapted to different age groups and content areas.

150 miles Apart

Garth Holman and Travis Armstrong recently taught a class together even though they teach 150 miles apart. Their students got to learn from each other and from different teachers. This was an experiment in, as Garth says, “Taking down the walls of the classroom.”

Taking Down Walls

Can this kind of co-teaching be used to further break down walls of mistrust or prejudice? Maybe 2 classrooms from different parts of the globe could do the Problem-Solution project together and see what happens. I would love to hear what others come up with!

See how Garth and Travis did it
Try the Problem-Solution Project
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