How do you recognize discrimination? And, once you learn to recognize it, how do you learn to respond to and confront these issues?
A new course at New Hampton School, Acknowledging Discrimination, is poised to empower students to recognize and confront discrimination, racism, and sexism. Based on the vision of current student Autumn James ’21, and through the collaborative effort with faculty member Jonathan Schwab, the ideas for this course came to life to directly address the prevalence of discrimination in our world. As a global community that values respect and responsibility, this timely addition will offer a safe space for students to explore and grow.
Many important factors go into course creation, from content to delivery methods, to accessibility, and more. Acknowledging Discrimination will hold a unique accessibility feature—it will be held in the evening outside of the traditional block rotation of academic classes. The seminar-style class will also accommodate co-curricular commitments, welcoming all 11th and 12th-grade students to join, thus allowing for the broad level of access to the student body.
When it came to creating a course, the inspiration came from James, who shared her ideas and vision with the school administration. Schwab, for his part, reached out to her and expressed his interest in helping it become a reality. Together they outlined delivery methods, finalized materials, the progression of the material throughout the term, and defined the goals of the class. As the first course James has collaborated on, she shares that working with Mr. Schwab has been helpful and enjoyable, while also offering her insight on the course structure. “Mr. Schwab’s experience in the classroom is really valuable to me because he offers advice that he has learned through his years as an educator.”
The curriculum will involve discussions surrounding important leaders and activists, while also studying legislation that coincides with civil rights, women’s rights, and disabled person’s rights. James notes that as a student, she found that learning through a variety of media was beneficial and engaging, while each offers its own unique advantages. Through a combination of class discussions, films, reading materials, and guest speakers, James hopes that experiencing these topics from several angles will allow students to absorb and fully understand the topics.
James is excited about a lot of the materials she’s chosen to highlight in the class ahead. “While researching, I came across a lot of great biographies and articles that I think will be excellent to read, analyze, and discuss. Students can expect to learn about discrimination and its impact on our world today and to be involved in discussions surrounding current events. The main goal of this class is to educate students and let their voices and experiences be heard.” Voices from the works of leaders like Nelson Mandela and many others will help develop the framework for understanding and growth. The class will learn to acknowledge microaggressions—the differences between the conscious and intentional from the implicit bias and privilege we may not immediately be aware of in our everyday interactions and language.
Only through acknowledging and learning can any of us be expected to grow, but we are not alone in this fight for knowledge and understanding. We benefit from being able to learn from history, to learn from our present day, and to grow from it. We are grateful for the effort to bring this course to New Hampton School and look forward to learning from Autumn James ’21 and Mr. Schwab this fall. Students who are interested in enrolling in this NCAA approved, half-credit class should contact Mrs. McMahon in the Academic Office.