Understanding Stereotypes — Free class for teens starts October 16

HEART Photo from Blog(The photo in this post comes from the HEART Blog)

After much trial and error, I have learned the best time to get my 17 year old to talk is just after he’s had his first sip of coffee but before the caffeine kicks in.  At that point he is still groggy, he can hear the questions and form thoughts but his defenses haven’t gone up yet so I get an honest answer. Yesterday I got a great comment in one of these semi-vegetative defenseless moments when he admitted that his aspirations for the future included “changing the world”.  For someone who spends a great deal of time just trying to fit in and live as Greg-Brady of a life as possible, this brought joy to my heart to hear that he is actually thinking how he will make a difference. Of course, the other thing I’ve learned about him is not to push to enthusiastically about anything because then it loses his appeal. I already feel like I got a huge win with him because I’m dropping him off at the Explorers Orientation this morning, so I’m not going to push it, but this new opportunity that popped up would be a perfect place for a youth to start understanding how to make change in the world.

The Multnomah County library  is offering a new class, Understanding Stereotypes, for teens interested in learning about stereotypes and exploring what it is like to face prejudice. During this 5-week course (5 weekly workshops) they will participate in interactive activities, watch films, play games and discuss complex issues.  And guess what? My friend Dani is teaching the course!

Dani and I play soccer together and while she is an absolute WALL of a defender for anyone trying to bust through our back line, she is also deeply committed to making the world a better place by promoting humane education. I asked her a few quick questions about HEART, the organization she works for that has developed the curriculum in this workshop, and about the Understanding Stereotypes class coming up. Dani leads the Portland chapter of HEART:

Tara: What is HEART and what makes it special?

Dani: HEART is the west coast chapter of an organization that’s been around since 2001 in NYC and Chicago. Our aim is “To foster compassion and respect for all living beings and the environment by educating youth and teachers in Humane Education.” Humane Education is the only field of study that fosters the passion and skills in young people to solve the most pressing challenges of our time. We ask young people to contemplate daily choices, how they spend their time, their work, and their acts of citizenship and then we ask them to consider what choices do the most good and least harm for ourselves, other people, animals, and the earth. We can’t wait until this is happening in all schools across the country!

Tara: What can students expect will happen at the classes?

Dani:  Students can expect to be challenged, supported and listened to and respected – they will be active participants in conversations and they’ll participate in interactive activities, films, discussions, hands-on service projects and sometimes field trips.

Tara:How might this help kids think about their future?

Dani:  Humane education is a lens, body of knowledge, and set of tools and strategies for teaching about human rights, animal protection, environmental stewardship, and cultural issues as interconnected and integral dimensions of a just, healthy society. No matter what professional path young people follow, they can take these tools everywhere they go. Humane education not only instills the desire and capacity to live with compassion, integrity, and wisdom, but also provides the knowledge and tools to put our values into action in meaningful, far-reaching ways so that we can find solutions that work for all.

So there you go! Sign up soon, class size is limited. (You will find the registration on the right side of the library’s page.) The 5 sessions are all at the Belmont Branch of the Multnomah County Library.

1038 SE César E. Chávez Boulevard
Portland, OR 97214

  • Wed, Oct 16, 2013 – 3:30 to 5:00
  • Wed, Oct 23, 2013 – 3:30 to 5:00
  • Wed, Oct 30, 2013 – 3:30 to 5:00
  • Wed, Nov 06, 2013 – 3:30 to 5:00
  • Wed, Nov 13, 2013 – 3:30 to 5:00
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