During the first week back at St. Columbkille we started off with a discussion about Women’s Empowerment. The lesson started off with asking the students who they recognized as prominent women’s rights activists. They named women such as Malala Yousafzai, Emma Watson, and Oprah. Our next question was to ask them what their definition of feminism would be and they all mentioned something about equality between the sexes, showing a great understanding of what feminism should be. They did mention the unfortunate connotation the word feminism has taken on and how it is now tied to some views that put women above men rather than as their equals.
Our next part of the lesson was to go over the different waves of feminism, something they had also been learning about in school. We started from the Seneca Falls Convention and moved up through the #metoo movement and discussed the Gillette Ad that had been presented earlier that week.
Something we spent a good amount of time on was the midterm elections and how there were more women in the House and the Senate than ever. This segued into a discussion on whether or not there should be quotas for how many women need to be in positions of power. The students had a range of opinions about this topic, raising concerns that it wouldn’t constitute equality if these quotas would technically exclude others from running based on gender.
We closed out the discussion for the day with how we could improve women’s rights in the United States and across the world. One student brought up the importance of diversity and representation as a foundation for improving these rights.
At our second meeting of 2019 at St. Columbkille, we discussed the recent government shutdown as well as the State of the Union speech. Students debated how they would resolve the shutdown crisis if they were in government. They recognized that border security funding has become a tough issue to tackle, but agreed that Congress should pass a funding bill for the government and put off a decision on border security in order to keep federal employees paid. The students were excited to deliberate other issues in the coming weeks, such as gun control, misinformation campaigns, DACA, and discrimination in law enforcement.
Our third week at St. Columbkille focused on fake news per the request of one of the students the week prior after our government shutdown discussion. The discussion started off with basic background information, introducing the students to the terms of fake media and alternative facts. Next, the discussion moved towards the CNN incident where their white house press pass got revoked and whether that was within the power of the government to do so. The students agreed that it was unfair for the white house to revoke the pass and brought up the idea of censorship in the media. Some of the students felt that there should be some level of censorship when it comes to the media so as not to endanger others. This also led to a debate on how long people needed to wait after tragedies and massive events to report on them. Some felt that anyone could post as soon as it happened to get the word out. Others felt that it should be larger news companies and that they needed to wait to get as much of the facts as they could. They wondered how much proof people needed before they could begin to form opinions on news stories and if video evidence was enough, especially in the case of the Covington High School boys and Nathan Phillips.
The second half of the discussion revolved around the role the internet plays in spreading fake news, mainly focusing on the Mueller investigation. The students debated on whether or not President Trump was responsible for the meddling since so many of those around him had already been found guilty. This also sparked the question of how to stop internet hackers from spreading fake news. The consensus was that with the advancement of technology there was not much laws could do--the people consuming the media are the ones to double check the truth. They finished off with the idea that there needed to be more diversity in newspapers to stop the spread of fake and biased news.
We look forward to exploring new topics in the remaining months of the academic year and we will keep you up to date!