Storytelling is an essential part of making social change. Ashoka, an organization dedicated to empowering change makers, believes there is a strong connection between our humanity, storytelling, and social change. In “A Changemakers Guide to Storytelling” they explain,
“Humans are hard-wired for storytelling. We make sense of the world around us through narratives – they form a core part of our culture, belief systems, organizations and personal identities. They allow us to envision and showcase the change we want to see in the world.”
Below is a lesson that you might use if you’d like to help your students move from sharing stories in an interview to taking action on an issue that is raised by their family story.
Lesson: Stories into Action
- Begin the lesson by asking students to reflect on the relationship between stories and civic action. Ask them to share all the ways that stories can be used as tools of social change. Encourage your students to identify examples of how people have used personal stories to inspire social change.
- To help students develop an action civics project using their stories, ask them to review the Ten Questions for Change Makers. You can either introduce the questions (they offer a free downloadable poster here) or have students watch this 7-minute video with Danielle Allen introducing the questions to teachers. Regardless of how you introduce the questions, review the questions with your students to make sure they are clear on their meaning;
- In groups, or on their own, ask your students to think about an aspect of a story they heard, either their own, their partner’s, or from a classmate, that they would like to see changed. It could be a policy, or it something smaller, like an interaction between individuals and groups or another issue or experience related to migration;
- Now work with your students to outline an action civics project. Individually, or in groups have students fill in this graphic organizer from page 15 of the Ten Questions for Changemakers guide to assist them in the development of an action civics plan;
- Have students return to their own story that they shared during their interview. Ask them, how might they use their story to help inspire the change they seek? Is there something in their story already that they can further develop, or do they want to add to their story? Give students time to prepare a three-minute presentation of their story that could help drive their action civics project forward;
- As an educator, you need to decide if you want to give students class time or credit to work on their project. Regardless of your choice, give students a chance to share their refined presentations with their peers, either just those in your class or at an assembly or another school event with parents and members of the community.
For additional guidance in helping student’s use their stories as part of a commentary on social issues, see the blog and video Educating for Democracy from the Teaching Channel website.