In our efforts to measure the #DisruptTexts impact around the country and world, we are sharing the work educators are doing in their schools and districts. We are so inspired and moved by the reports and we encourage everyone to consider the ways this work needs to permeate their environment. These efforts will always look different because they should be based on your particular context.
Today’s report comes from Blacksburg, Virginia. Joshua Thompson (@jthompedu) shared with us the important changes taking place in his classroom.
Joshua tells us about his disruption of Sandra Cisneros’ The House on Mango Street. “I feel like a lot of what I’ve seen out there as far as units go tokenize the novel, only reading it as the representative Latinx text and not diving deeper into the issues Cisneros presents in her vignettes.”
His students wanted to pay attention to racism and prejudice. “I believe one student asked, “Is their neighborhood segregated?” So we spent a lesson diving deeper into America’s history of housing discrimination. Thanks to Lorena’s tweet about The Color of Law documentary Segregated by Design, I knew it existed and brought that into the unit. We watched and discussed it together, pairing it with the “White Flight” chapter from The Color of Law by Richard Rothstein to further our understanding of the topic. Then students applied that new knowledge to their reading of the novel. Every one of them said that it deepened their understanding. If I had time, we would have then looked specifically at housing discrimination in Chicago.”
Another topic he analyzed with students were issues of sexual assault and violence. “We had conversations about consent and social and cultural systems (patriarchy, toxic masculinity, machismo). To broaden our understanding, I brought in an excerpt from chapter 5 of Erika L. Sánchez’s I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter, particularly the scene in which Julia falls asleep on the couch at her best friend’s house and half wakes up to see her friend’s mom’s boyfriend taking pictures of her with her skirt pulled up.”
And then Joshua added an additional layer of complexity. Look at this:
“After drawing comparisons between the texts, noting differences, and discussing them, I decided to bring in one more text to help answer questions, deepen understanding of the topics, and show a depiction of a modern-day Latinx family—in this case, Cuban—with season 3, episode 2 “Outside” of the Netflix series One Day at a Time. Before we even started watching it, though, I made sure to explain to students that the characters in Cisneros and Sánchez’s novels are Mexican and that the characters in One Day at a Time are Cuban. I stressed that point throughout and talked about why it’s imperative that we get it right. This particular episode does an excellent job of explaining consent, discussing the effects of rape culture, and encouraging men and boys especially of their role in stopping it. And it has the added bonus of LGBTQ representation! By far, this was the overwhelming class favorite. Students commented on how refreshing it was to be able to talk about a show that several of them had either already watched, had started watching, or had on their list. I noticed increased student engagement, deepened student understanding, and more student critical thinking by weaving these three texts together. That’s the power of disrupting texts!”
Joshua, wow! Thank you for sharing this amazing and powerful work with us. Thank you for supporting your students in this way and creating conscious critical thinkers. This is how we change our country. This is how we disrupt. We want to encourage you to press on and keep pushing!