Speak about

Give students space to talk

Photo of Jonathan Prateat
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One possible way for us to try to empathize our students is to open the possibility for them to speak, and expose their difficulties, their dreams, their yearnings, their desires, their fears, their strengths, and their weaknesses.

In a project developed with one of my classes, at the Publicity faculty, I requested that publicity and awareness campaigns be created on topics that here in Brazil are always difficult to address due to the high level of prejudice and discrimination.

The teams worked on these topics:

1 - Human rights

2 - African Religions

3 - Homosexuality

4 - Racism

5 - Drugs

At all times my students and I discussed all these topics openly. We had a group of homosexual men and women, some people adept at Candomblé, two blacks, people of evangelical religions, who in Brazil are usually conservative, anyway. We had a great setting for each person to talk about how he felt, tell his story, and so show that, although different, they were people, and they had a lot more in common than they seemed.

The results were wonderful. On the day of the advertising campaign presentations, each team talked about their theme and everything they learned about respecting people, and looking at the world empathically with each other's gaze

See if this can work for you.

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Photo of Megan McMahon

Hi Jonathan, as we move into the build stage of this challenge, I'd love to see some of the specifics of this project-- you said that trust was built in the first class, what were some of the questions you asked or activities you used build trust? What kinds of activities did you do with students to encourage them to think deeply about their desires, fears, dreams, strengths, etc? Was this a month or a semester long project? It sounds like you work with older students, but I could definitely see this project being done in middle school or high school to different degrees. do you have a plan or guide that you use that you could share with us? Would love to see it!

Photo of Jonathan Prateat

Thank you Megan. Sorry for the delay to answer. First of all I told to my students experiences that I had lived about my ethnicity, my experience with some gay students that I had in another classes, about my religion (candomblé), and other situations envolving diversity I had experienced in my life. My father is also teacher, and he told me many things about his students, that was from poor communities.

The project was applied in a semester, being one half just studying the theme, and a half producing de ad campaings.

My students are about 19-25 years old. It's an university, than they are in the end of teenaging and starting their adult phase.

Tell me what classes you teach and, perhaps, I could help you.

Photo of Jonathan Prateat

Hi Megan. Thank you. Some of the projects were used by real organizations. And the presentation of the project was opened for more academics of the university.

Photo of Megan McMahon

Hi Jonathan, I love how you took this idea further--going beyond the discussions, to processing and sharing what was learned through the creation of the public awareness campaign videos. Thanks for sharing the video--were students able to share their work outside of the classroom? Great project!

Photo of Lisa Yokana

Amazing! I'd love to know how you created the sense of trust that you had that allowed everyone to express their thoughts in a safe space? How did you build that trust? I'm excited to hear more! And when you get a second, add a photo to your post. It helps more people click on it and read your idea!

Photo of Jonathan Prateat

Trust was established early on with the first conversation I had with the class. The discipline deals with the creation of campaigns to support social causes and non-governmental entities, and this is made clear from the beginning.

My conversation with the academics is also very frank and clear of any prejudice. I myself am black and adept at Candomblé, I do many readings on human rights and I am strictly against homophobia or transphobia.

Speaking openly, without embarrassing, and not forcing them to accept anything, but to think with the eyes of others, the class has already established the necessary confidence.

In the following link you can see one of the videos produced for the campaign against homophobia and transphobia, developed by one of the teams.