Teachers weave movement into math, history, journalism

Teachers weave movement into math, history, journalism

Araceli Ramos

Reporting on occupy: Media Academy juniors Kemish Quintero (left) and Diego Garcia interview a protester during the Occupy Oakland general strike on Nov. 2.

Teachers have been occupied with tying a worldwide issue with an Oakland angle into their classrooms lessons — Occupy Oakland.

During the first week of Occupy Wall Street, social studies teacher Elizabeth Siarny began teaching her Media Academy students in American Government about the movement. She gave them news articles about the Wall Street movement and led fishbowl discussions about the articles.

“I felt it was important for the students to learn and be informed about the movement because I think there aren’t many students who understand it and what it’s about, so they may not be taking it seriously,” said Siarny. “I wanted students to have more information, instead of going by what they hear, in order for them to be able to make their own critical decision about if they support the movement or not.”

The Occupy movement is a series of protests in the U.S by members of the “99 percent” who are demonstrating against what is known as the“one percent,” wealthy people, banks and big corporations. Protesters accuse the one percent of unfairly holding most of the money and power in our country.

The Occupy movement included a general strike on Nov. 2, which became violent after protesters marched to close down the Port of Oakland.

One of Siarny’s students, Mariah Hines, said the lessons about Occupy have been good.
“I learned that a lot of people in the community wants a change in how much we share being the 99 percent,” Hines said.

Joanna Brownson, an algebra teacher at Media Academy, wanted her class to have a better understanding of what the 99 percent and the 1 percent were.

Brownson’s class created a visual representation of what wealth the 1 percent of population shares (40 percent) versus the amount of the wealth that the other 99 percent of population shares (60 percent) in America. Students calculated the hourly wage of the people in both the 99 percent and the 1 percent.

Brownson says that she felt it was important that her students understood how math was used to make arguments. She also said “math is used to create policies or defend injustice and if you don’t understand it, you are more likely to be a victim of that injustice.”

At College Preparatory & Architecture Academy (CPAA), social studies teacher Elizabeth Schuster, informed her classes about the Occupy Wall Street by having them look at New York Times slideshows of the protests for their morning warm ups before the movement’s general strike on Nov. 2.

After the slideshows, Shuster’s students broke into discussion groups and explained if they agreed with the protests or not.

Another teacher at CPAA also informed her class about the Occupy movement.
Advanced Placement U.S. Government teacher Ji Suk Lee had her students read articles and she answered lingering questions about what they had read.

Media Academy journalism teacher Lisa Shafer taught her freshman classes about the Occupy movement by having students read Tammerlin Drummond’s columns in the Oakland Tribune and writing about whether they agreed or disagreed with her opinions on Occupy.

Shafer also took three newspaper students to the general strike as a journalism project.

“Being at the strike first hand was more exciting than learning about it in class because it showed how communities are able to come together to protest against the government for something they believe in,” said news editor Diego Garcia, who interviewed protesters in Frank Ogawa Plaza.

Garcia reported that protesters were gathered around city hall with a diversity of signs, including some that read “bail out schools, not banks” and “peacefully pissed.”

He also interviewed Tony Mai, a Media Academy student he ran into while reporting in Frank Ogawa Plaza.

The Occupy movement “is going to change America,” said Mai, who decided not to go to school so he could support the movement and join the general strike.
Many Oakland teachers wearing green Oakland Education Association T-shirts also protested. It is unclear how many of the 300 or so Oakland teachers at the strike were from Fremont High.