Category Archives: Social Justice

American Lit: Octavia’s Brood: Sci-Fi Stories From Social Justice Movements (elizabeth ortega)

Note: This class is open to high school students only.

Read 25 short stories written by 20 different authors inspired by Octavia Butler, including one written by the South Seattle musician, writer, and hip hop artist Gabriel Teodros. (I’m going to work on having him come as a guest speaker.)

Celebrate diverse voices and stories.

Dive into the blended world of sci-fi and social justice. 

Engage in rich discussion about how to envision and build the world you want to see.

This will be a read-aloud and discussion class. There will also be short writing assignments along the way to practice diving deeper into content and themes.

Octavia’s Brood, exists in part to redress a historical bias toward white male writers. In the 1960s, a poll to find the greatest science fiction novel of all time featured not a single female author… Science fiction “has responded to minority writers as society has responded- slowly.” This is thanks in no small part to the female African-American science fiction pioneer Octavia E. Butler who is commemorated in the title of the anthology. Specifically, the editors name-check the “Octavia Butler scholarship, an Octavia E. Butler Legacy Network, and all the work the Carl Brandon Society has been doing since 1997” as examples of science fiction’s slow progress toward equality across barriers of gender, race, and sexuality, of which Octavia’s Brood forms a part.

“[Questions of social justice] have deep roots in history and they are our responsibility to figure out with more focused attention than a sensationalized 24 hour news cycle allows. We chose to collect short stories that could be read quickly but ask important questions that stick with our readers. Where is home? What is justice? What makes life worth living and fighting for?” Speculative fiction interrogates current societal values through its portrayal of alternative paradigms and social structures, and the editors feel that traditional narratives allow for these complex parallels to be developed to their fullest.”

–Excerpts from an interview with the editors, Walidah Imarisha and Adrienne Maree Brown

 

 

Required texts/materials:

Connection to Place (hannah)

Through place-based learning, this class aims to immerse students in the heritage, culture, landscape, experiences, and opportunities of your immediate environment. 

This class will be divided into two units: your home and your neighborhood. We will begin by learning about the tribal lands which our homes now occupy. Later in the term, you will make a community asset map of your neighborhood to learn about the social organizations, structures, and services shaping the sociocultural landscape today. 

A lot of this class will be outdoors. Your yard and your neighborhood will be your classroom. Lessons will be interdisciplinary, including sociology, science, civics, language arts, and self care, with the objective to deeply learn about your immediate surrounding environment.

Old Tactics, New Times: Pushback and Breakthroughs in the Struggle for Civil Rights , Part 2 (Larry Metzger)

Note: This class is open to high school students only.

This class is a continuation of the winter term course, Old Tactics, New Times: Pushback and Breakthroughs in the Struggle for Civil Rights, Part 1. Students who did not take Part 1 can still enroll in this class. In Part 2 of the course we will pick up the story of the Civil Rights Movement in the late 1950s with the struggle for school integration in the South. Our exploration of the Civil Rights Movement will culminate with its great victories – the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. We will also look at the history of housing segregation in Seattle. From there we will turn to the ongoing fight for racial justice in contemporary America, focusing on the struggles against police violence and efforts to suppress voting in Black communities.

We will organize our exploration around the following big questions:

  1. What were the goals of the Civil Rights Movement?
  2. What strategies did Civil Rights activists use?
  3. Why did certain strategies succeed?
  4. Why did so many whites oppose equal rights for African Americans?
  5. What choices did both supporters and opponents of the Civil Rights Movement make and how did their choices affect events?
  6. How successful was the Civil Rights Movement?

About the instructor: I was a full-time history teacher a several independent schools for many years until my retirement in 2015. Since then I have been volunteering at PSCS, where I have taught a version of this course, as well as classes on the Vietnam War and Nazi Germany. What I enjoy most about teaching PSCS students is their love of learning, enthusiasm, and willingness to engage with tough issues. During my first four years as a volunteer at PSCS, I was living in Seattle. This summer, however, my wife, Elizabeth Alexander; our dog, Dr. Norman; and I moved to Santa Fe, New Mexico in the high Southwest desert.

Required texts/materials: Pdfs of photocopied materials that I will provide. The instructor will procure the texts/materials.

Power to the People (Anya)

Note: This class is open to high school students only.

This class is going to be a mix of protest history, and learning about what’s going on right now both locally and on a larger scale in terms of demonstrations and protests. We will cover some BLM, LGBTQ+, Women’s rights, and Indigenous celebration/rights focused protests through things like YouTube vids, podcasts, guests, etc… I (Anya) acknowledge that I am a white/able-bodied/cisgendered person who cannot speak to the experiences of people in communities I do not fit into in the US. That’s why it’s really important to me to have POC, LGBTQ+, Indigenous, female identified, etc.. guest speakers who can speak to those perspectives. Our hope is that this will be a chill space where people feel comfortable enough to ask questions and learn through mistakes. If you’re open to come and join us, we’d love to have you!

MS Current Events (elizabeth ortega)

Note: This class is open to middle school students only.

Every week we will dive into a different topic. We will gather opinions about what global issues, political matters, current news, we want to explore. We will read articles, watch short videos, listen to news segments, and look at photos regarding the issues at hand. The content will be relevant to what is going on in the world and we will do our best to keep up with the events of this time.

You will have asynchronous time to complete an assignment each week and then, the following week, we will engage in small group discussion in a socratic seminar style.

What did you learn? What surprised you? What activated you? Do you agree with your classmates? What do you still wonder?

Embroidery and Diverse Voices (elizabeth ortega)

This class is for both returning students and students who are new to embroidery! (I will work with new students to catch you up.)

This class is 2 parts: EMBROIDERY and DIVERSE VOICES.

Embroidery. This is the craft of decorating fabric using a needle and applying thread or yarn. It’s a hand-eye coordination craft. You can decorate anything from a jean jacket to a handkerchief.

You can decorate with words, designs, images, shapes, etc. It’s bunches of fun, requires patience and intention, and is very rewarding when your masterpieces are completed. You can frame your pieces, wear your pieces, or decorate with them.

Diverse Voices. We will listen to various podcasts, Ted talks, and media pieces centering voices that are typically marginalized. We will hear from a variety of folks, from many different backgrounds, across all different identities and life experiences. We will engage in small group discussion during synchronous classes.

I challenge you to join us for some hands on art, listening, connection with each other, and creativity.

This class is for you if you’ve already taken and want to continue to improve your skills and for those who are just beginning and need some extra support with embroidery.