Courant: Technology Fuels Magnet School Students’ Activism
Technology Fuels Magnet School Students’ Activism
by Stan Simpson
May 10, 2008
©The Hartford Courant
What started as a high school research project inspired by a profound lack of knowledge about genocide in Darfur ended in an epiphany of sorts for those involved.
Pathways to Technology Magnet High School students learned how student activism can raise awareness about a global atrocity –and why personal responsibility is the first step to making their world a better place.
Pathways students designed and recently launched a nonprofit website–www.students4darfur.org. In separate projects, they’ve also traveled to China and developed a computer math game geared toward high schoolers.
This is coming at a time when business leaders lament the lack of math, science and technology skills, global awareness and overall preparedness of the future workforce.
That a Hartford magnet, based in Windsor, engages in this kind of practical education is encouraging: The state’s poorest-performing district is beginning to provide a curriculum to enhance technology skills and raise social consciousness. That’s pretty cool.
“I learned a lot of stuff that I didn’t know, as far as how people have been treated and what we can do on an economic basis,” said Eric Wilson, 18, a Pathways junior and website project manager. “What troubles me most is knowing that with all the money being used in politics, our fellow human beings are being hit with this disastrous situation.”
Pathways students will be among the 1,200 middle and high school students showcasing their technology, science and research projects today at the 2008 Connecticut Innovation Exposition at the Connecticut Convention Center. The schools use a technology curriculum developed through a partnership between the state-funded Center for 21st Century Skills @ Education Connection and Connecticut Career Choices
Through their various projects, the Pathways students became more aware of China’s role in purchasing oil from Sudan and in helping to support a government reportedly orchestrating the tribal war and genocide in the country’s west region.
“You see this horrible situation, and you say, ‘What if it was me?,'” said Zamoi Davis, 17, a junior at Pathways. “What if my family was being killed, my mother was raped constantly? It makes you think hard. And you want to make a difference and stand up for something you highly believe in.”
The situation in Sudan is catching the attention of the world. It could culminate in tension–or worse–at the Summer Olympics in China. Pressure is being put on the world’s emerging economic giant to stop its role in contributing to the Sudanese madness and account for its heavy-handedness in Tibet.
The Pathway kids say the Olympics is an ideal platform for a protest. That they are in activism mode shouldn’t come as a surprise. A few weeks back, about 30 students staged an on-campus rally supporting a popular vice principal whose job was to be eliminated through budget cuts.
When students engage in activism, it means they’re learning–and becoming enlightened.
“What we’re really trying to do is prepare kids for the world beyond high school, for the world beyond the classroom,” said Stephen Wilmarth, program director for the Center for 21st Century Skills program. Wilmarth accompanied a contingent of 17 Pathways students and others on a two-week trip to China last spring that he says was insightful for both the visitors and their guests.
This Connecticut magnet is attracting interest.
Stan Simpson’s column appears on Wednesdays and Saturdays. He can be heard live today on WTIC NewsTalk 1080 from 5:30 a.m. to 10 a.m.