When I listen to my students’ conversations, stresses, and obsessions, I am often reminded of my own adolescence. I spent painful hours as a high school student worrying about silly things like my haircut or finding the perfect jeans. I was regularly consumed with anxiety about what other people thought of me. It often astounds me that I chose to become a high school teacher when those years were so miserable. Developmentally, my students are not always walking through their days with wide eyes debating the news from abroad or homelessness and hunger here in Oregon. They – like many adolescents – are often consumed with Friday night games and dances, dating, music, and sports. At fifteen, I found it difficult to recognize or think about a world that lay outside my immediate range of vision. However, I remember the teachers and mentors who gave me opportunities to think and act beyond my experience and reminded me of the power of the small, yet significant acts. I want to believe that it is not naive or short-sighted for my students to have an abundance of skills, ideas, and questions to carry with them in the lives in order to influence the world for the better.
– from the chapter, “Culminating Project: Choosing Issues of Activism,” in Stirring Up Justice: Writing and Reading to Change the World by Jessica Singer