← Conversations

Promoting student civic action through a critical exploration of incarceration practices in the U.S.

Session 4
Rebecca Coven and Marina Isakowitz — The Workshop School

In recent years, policymakers, educators, and journalists alike have decried the decline of civics education in our country. If the goal of civics education is to help young people become active and engaged citizens in a democratic society, then we are particularly failing our students of color. These students struggle to see themselves as changemakers because so many of the examples of student activism that are held up in the media are of actions led by young people who do not look like them or come from similar communities.

In this conversation, we will share how, in a high school setting, we use a project centering around the issue of mass incarceration as a tool to help students translate civic learning and discussions of injustice into civic action that addresses a social issue. The objectives of the project are to: (1) examine the effects of the rapid growth of incarceration in the United States; (2) identify and research root causes of mass incarceration; (3) develop an action plan for addressing the issue of mass incarceration. The project culminates in a public, city-wide Mass Incarceration Symposium in which students engage community members in a dialogue about injustice in the prison system. By providing students with a platform to engage with community members and share their work with key stakeholders, we are presenting them with an authentic audience for their work so that they can see how their work can impact the community around them.

Conversational Practice

This session will be formatted as as conversation among presenters and participants about the importance of civics education in schools and how we as educators can support and encourage student civic action. In order to put the voices of our students at the center of our work, our students will share their experiences with civic action through the mass incarceration project. Participants will leave the conversation with actionable steps for incorporating civics education into their classroom, regardless of discipline or subject being taught.

Presenter Profiles

Rebecca Coven
Rebecca Coven
The Workshop School


JSON feed