Women in History class promotes discussion, education, action Anna Rhoads '19

Walking into the Women in History class, discussion is lively and dynamic. The class begins with an open conversation about current events, where Cathy Schager, the teacher, steps away from her desk and sits among the students, allowing them to speak freely about topics they decide. After this discussion, the students jump straight into planning and action. With a new banner to create and a panel to put together, the class has much to complete before seniors leave for internships in May. According to the 2017-2018 Course Catalog, “Women in History is a course for students who are interested in exploring national and global issues through the lens of influential women throughout history.”

Students plan a new banner that will be displayed outside of the cafeteria. This banner, unlike the past interactive ones, will provide information for students.

After sitting down with the class and asking what they think about the course, students emphasized the discussion based curriculum, and expressed a desire to open up their conversation to more than just women, through a syllabus of historical and current women and issues who have impacted society.

Students discuss and plan future projects. Rather than learning from a powerpoint, students are educated through taking action and having discussion.

“It’s very discussion based, everyone shares their thoughts and opinions, and we usually focus on one or a few things to talk about on a given day,” Jamie Orseck ’19 said after asked what a regular class period looks like. “We learn as a class, educate our peers, and work together to learn what we can do to help change the issues that we know are important.”

Classmates discuss the panel they are putting together, in front of their "Who is a woman you admire" banner.

According to the course catalog “This course is centered around discourse and inquiry which will allow students to research their own interests and expand their studies to women’s history and issues on both a national and global level.”

Although it is a main focal point, discussion is not the only thing the Women in History class accomplishes; the class is active in school and the Westport community. The most recent banner made by the class was for International Women’s Day which asked “Who is a woman you admire?” The class said they knew they would get backlash but were forced to take down the banner the same Wednesday they put it up, due to inappropriate images and names, including specific people around the building. The class said they wanted to keep up the names who had an impact on society, despite their political background or career, but were forced to cover up names put there as a joke. Along with this banner, the class gave away pins with purple ribbons and gave munchkins for those who guessed whether inventions were made by men or women.

Posters hang around the classroom promoting gender equality and other social issues, like this one which reads, "Well-behaved women rarely make history."

For the banner that will be going up soon, the class decided to take a more informative route. In class, ⅔ of the students create the new banner while ⅓ plans a panel, which they hope will help educate the community on issues they feel passionate about. They’ve reached out to organizations like Planned Parenthood to contribute to this event.

Planning, discussing and questioning are key parts of the Women in History class, and as students plan upcoming projects they use all three.

“In other social studies classes, or any classes, there tends to be competition among the students over test grades and homework,” Zoe Hulina ’18 said. “But in Women in History, rather than competing over who knew the most beforehand about a particular topic, we use our discussions to teach each other and elevate our collective knowledge while Ms. Schager is our moderator.

Teacher Cathy Schager, uses a calendar to keep track up the projects the class is putting together in the upcoming month.

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