Getting into ‘Good Trouble’ at Eagle Rock School

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As has been the case over the past four weeks here on our blog, this week we’re highlighting another class that focuses much of its attention on presenting Eagle Rock School students with important issues surrounding social justice and nonviolence. Fittingly called Good Trouble, this class is exploring the history of peaceful opposition and social justice through the lives and works of Nobel Peace Laureates from around the world.

The title of the class, Good Trouble, comes from John Lewis, an American statesman and civil rights leader who served in the United States House of Representatives for Georgia’s 5th congressional district from 1987 until his death in 2020, who said, “Never, ever be afraid to make some noise and get in good trouble, necessary trouble.”

In Good Trouble, students are looking at ways to peacefully engage with those who might hold opposing views to their own — always in a constructive manner. In addition to learning how to correspond civilly across lines of difference, students are exploring the intersections of identity, history, current events, and social change and action.

The class is being taught by Josán Perales, our World Languages instructional specialist; Lucia Sicius and Matisyn Darby, two of our 2020/2021 Public Allies fellows; Courthney Russell, Jr., our Residential Life Program coordinator; and Annie Kelston, a student services program specialist and Explore Week coordinator.

And for the first time in Eagle Rock history, we’re using a curriculum that was designed by a Public Allies fellow! Second-year fellow Lucia Sicius spent this past summer preparing six chapters of action-oriented curricula for and by youth, in collaboration with interns at the Peace Jam Foundation —an international organization working through the inspiration of past Nobel Laureates. As an alum of the program, Lucia saw an opportunity for Eagle Rock to model a class that explores identity, storytelling, and deliberate action among students.

The Good Trouble afternoon block is a direct response to current events in the world. Lucia said that, with the inspiration of past and present heroes — including John Lewis and the award-winning researcher and author Dr. Gholdy Muhammed — the curriculum sparks conversation and learning opportunities surrounding the injustices perpetrated in our personal lives, social lives, and institutional systems.

So far this trimester, the co-instructors have divvied up students into so called “Jamily groups,” with students tasked with defining their own values, share personal stories, understand aspects of civic discourse, and identifying key issue areas within the Billion Acts of Peace project.

The objective is for students to connect the dots between their identities and their individual experiences while learning how to act as global citizens. And while it’s no easy task for students to “put their heads together” in this time of coronavirus, this class offers participants the space needed to truly engage with open and honest minds.

Two students who have expressed appreciation for this class offering, described them in their own words.

Alyssa Johnson, who arrived at Eagle Rock in September of this year, said, “In times like these, it is very good to get educated and dig deep in your beliefs so that you can have your own thoughts and opinions. This can get you into good trouble. I think we need good trouble right now, because if we don’t stand up for what we believe in there will be no change, no awareness, and no good to come out of the trouble.”

Mario Cardenas, another student who arrived in September, said, “For me, good trouble means to go against the norm and get out of your comfort zone no matter what people may think of you. Good trouble could be spreading awareness to people or friends who may not have similar ideals as you.”

Next week, for our fifth and final spotlight post on this trimester’s classes, we’ll be covering It’s Lit! Circles — a class that’s reading and discussing Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You.

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