Jul 16

Teaching Dignity and Empathy 2.0

photo of the whiteboard showing revised version of kids' first song.Last Wednesday at Singing For Love I taught a revised version of this lesson. It differed from the first iteration in technical layout, in the better use of questions to direct the inquiry, and the use of better questions. 

The lesson uses photos from Dana Gluckstein’s Dignity: Tribes in Transition series. First, I ask what “dignity” means. Definitions tend to be fuzzy, but I give no hints. Instead I propose that maybe we can figure out what dignity looks like. The kids look at the indigenous faces and I ask questions that make them think about those people’s lives and attitudes. 

Technically, I did one small thing that made a big difference. Using OpenOffice Impress, I made the photos slide backgrounds, not just photos inserted on the slide. Although doing this distorts some of the photos, it removes the borders, making fullscreen truly fullscreen. I’m sure it made for greater impact than the one and only previous time I situated this lesson. 

This time around, I focused on only two main questions. Is this dignity? Is this person happy? Then I just let the kids tell me, and each other as it turned out, as much as they could think up. Why is she happy? What do you think they were doing before this picture was taken, and after this picture was taken? They asked some of their own. 

And then I wrote some of it down as key concepts and asked them to bring the current energy level along with them to the chord changes, and let’s see if we can bring these concepts into the lyrics. The semi-final result is up above. How’d they do? 

We all lost track and worked 15 minutes past our normal break time. Everyone agreed it was a good session. 

Update: I wrote about it here as well.