Should students get involved in civil disobedience?
The answer to that question has everything to do with circumstances: who the students are, what actions they plan to take, and what they are protesting. And that’s just the beginning.
Given our political reality, however, it’s naive to think that students and their families whose lives may well be directly impacted by policy change won’t be eager to have their voices heard. For some, this will mean civil disobedience.
So here are some resources that may be helpful for anyone who plans to protest.
From the Albert Einstein Institution, 198 Methods of Nonviolent Action is an excellent list of ways to resist.
The list is grouped into categories that include “Formal Statements,” “Communication with a Wider Audience,” “Drama and Music,” “Actions by Consumers,” “Symbolic Public Acts,” and more. Note that this resource is a critical part of the PBS Learning Media lesson plan covered here.
One of the things we like most about this document is the breadth of methods presented. Not all students will want, much less be able to, join street demonstrations, but most will be able to find a method here that helps them use their voice in a way that’s powerful. Maybe that’s #18, Display of flags and symbolic colors. For another, it could be #2, Letters of opposition or support. Others might make use of #36, Performances of plays and music. (And we have material that can help with both options!)
For those who will be joining demonstrations, Right to Protest has a detailed list of steps to take to best ensure safety for protestors.
The tips begin with Before You Go and run through Get Back Safely and Share Your Story.
One place to find demonstrations that may be near you is here. However, you know your students and situation best; we can’t recommend enough that educators vet protests and demonstrations to the best of their ability before encouraging students to take part. Safety is paramount, and there are many ways to be heard.
Got additional resources on this topic? Any tips or stories? We’d love to hear them.