I learned a lot about digital activism this week and the question came up:
“Should schools require some kind of activism of students?”
It took me back to when I was a k-12 student and how my classmates and I participated in learning. I was passionate about getting through tests and learning enough to be successful in my future. However, my mind was nowhere near politics or other similar activist subjects.
The only time in my k-12 youth that I became passionate about something and participated in activism was when the school would not post a flyer for my Wiccan club. The school allowed bible club to post their posters but would not authorize my group or post my content. They would not even consider it. In this moment I ranted on social media, to my parents, and to my friends. The school told me separation of religion and state would not allow them to consider my club. However, when I would bring up the bible club they would ignore me.
While I am no longer Wiccan, or religious at all for that matter, I am not sure that I would have wanted to become an online activist for this issue. My under-developed brain would likely have made some permanent keystrokes online that I wouldn’t want following me around for the rest of my life. The things I believed as a young woman are completely different than what I believe now. This goes for politics, religion, and a general worldview.
Forcing young people to participate in activism seems counterproductive. If they are not ready to be passionate about something, why make them choose? They should be able to move into that realm when they feel comfortable and ready. Plus, online activism can become heated, negative, and even dangerous.
I do however believe that teaching students how to participate in online activism would be beneficial. Teaching students how to participate in respectful debate and conflict resolution could be included in digital citizenship curriculum. One resource that I found very informative and insightful was one from meta-activism by Mary Joyce.