Ask students what we mean when we call someone an "activist."
Record their responses.
Explain that the purpose of this activity is to learn about
people in their community working for certain causes, especially
those related to human rights, and the types of activities
with which they are involved.
Write five headings on the board:
and Staff Activists
Activists in the Community
Brainstorm the names of local people and organizations that
might fit these categories and list them under the five
headings. Next to each name write the issue or concern of
that person or group. Encourage the class to think broadly
(e.g., religious organizations, parent-teacher groups, individuals
who have been responsible for mobilizing community projects,
local chapters of national organizations).
Analyze the list to determine which individuals and groups
are working for causes related to human rights. Star these
and identify the specific right in the UDHR and/or CRC that
they work to advance. Remember to include social, economic,
and cultural rights as well as civil rights in your definition
of human rights.
Assign or have students choose an individual or organization
to research, interview, and report on to the class. Clarify
how they are to present their research, i.e. written, oral,
or some other method. Younger students may feel more comfortable
interviewing in pairs.
As a class or in small groups, have students construct interview
questions. Review and approve the questions before students
make the interviews.
Sample Interview Questions for ideas.
Assign each student a time to report back to the class.
Action to Address Human Rights Issues Students might
identify specific human rights problems in their school
or community or in the United States and discuss which types
of organizations or individual efforts might provide the
best way to address those problems.
Action for Human Rights in the News Students might
bring in articles about individual activists or organizations
that work for human rights. They can identify the types
of human right issues on which the person or organization
works and match the issue with specific articles of the
UDHR and/or CRC.
Address Files Students may wish to send for information
on various human rights organizations. You may wish to set
up classroom or library files to use for future reference.
A Booklet on Community Activism Although reporting
back orally is the best way to encourage discussion, you
may also want students to prepare one-page summaries about
the organizations and individuals they researched. These
can be included in a booklet distributed to the entire class.
This booklet can be used for future homework or class assignments.
Give copies as well to the local historical society as a
record of social action in the community.
Articles on Community Activism Students could also
write articles based on their experiences for school or
Considerations for the Teacher
assistance in compiling a list of local organizations,
you may eventually want to direct students to look in
the Yellow Pages of the telephone book under "Social
Service Organizations," some of which will be appropriate
for this activity. Local newspapers might help you discover
other individuals or organizations involved in social
change. Depending on the time available and how you choose
to structure the activity, you may wish to have some students
perform a voluntary survey of the faculty and staff at
the school to find out the type of activist work they
are involved in, which is often not general knowledge.
Students should have a classmate or adult accompany
them to the interview. You may wish to notify parents
of the assignment in advance and secure their permission
for students participation.
would also be helpful to review basic telephone courtesy
and skills and to give students some guidelines about
how to conduct a polite and effective interview. Also
set up a structure so that each student is held accountable
for sending a thank-you note to the interviewee. You might
want to set due dates for the notes and have students
hand them to you before mailing.
Pilar Garrido, teacher, Eden Prairie
High School, Eden Prairie, Minnesota;
Karen Kraco, Human Rights Educators
Network, Amnesty International
students will come up with their own interview questions,
but they may need help. Below are some examples to stimulate
what type of social problems
do you work? Why do you think
they are important?
do you think these problems
you think your work addresses
the cause of the problem? If
did you become involved in this
type of work? What inspired
you to continue working for
long have you been involved
in this work?
are some of the approaches and
methods you use in your work?
are some of the problems you
face in your work?
this volunteer or paid work?
much time do you spend?
organizations or individuals
do you interact with in the
school or community?
special skills, if any, do you
need in this work?
do you like best about this
do you educate the public about
are the sources of your funding
to do this work?
did the organization get started?
many people work for this organization
and what do they do? Are they
paid or are they volunteers?
you consider yourself an activist?
Why or why not?
are ways that young people can
take effective action for change
in the community?
you consider what you do human
role do you think students can
play in the type of work your