Social Studies teacher Ms. LaTishia Baker decided this year that she would also participate in the 20% project assignment that her departmental co-worker, Mr. Stefen Robinson started a few years ago. The 20% project is an assignment in which the students find a passion project with a community impact, spending 20% of their class time on that work. The students choose a subject important to them and participate in social justice work.
“When somebody says ‘Hey, you can do whatever you want, people sometimes don’t know how to respond,” Robinson said. “Often, students don’t know what to do ‘cause it’s hard when you have been socialized in an environment where you’re told what to do all the time.”
To Robinson, the idea of making a student sit at a desk and listen as someone talked at them about a time when a person worked on something that they were passionate about, seemed like stunting the growth mentally for the students.
“Really,” said Robinson, “I want to offer the opportunity for students to get involved in activism.”
In place of hearing him lecture about an activist, something almost abstract to some students, Robinson wanted them to actually practice activism, community change.
Robinson’s main goal in starting the 20% project was to get students to work for something that they enjoy or find interesting. Why not let them do something they are passionate about now, instead of waiting until their twelve years of school is over to get a diploma to tell the world, “now they’re allowed to do what they love?”
“I want them to enjoy working on something that they find valuable,” Robinson explained. “Really, I want to offer the opportunity for students to get involved in activism. This might lead to their involvement in more community work. You’re more than likely to get more involved in social justice work, once you start doing it.”