Teachable moments in the news: Occupy Wall Street protests
The scene in downtown Manhattan as thousands get ready to march over the Brooklyn bridge on November 17, 2011.
November 22nd, 2011
08:08 AM ET

Teachable moments in the news: Occupy Wall Street protests

Editor’s note: As curriculum writers and journalists, we think there are teachable moments in almost everything that’s going on. In this ongoing series, we’ll take a look at individual news stories as they develop and give teachers and parents some ideas on how to approach them with your kids.

By Donna Krache, CNN

You might be in front of a classroom full of ninth-graders, or there might be protests in your community that prompt a discussion among students. There’s an opportunity to both connect what students are learning to real-world events and encourage them to think critically as they formulate opinions. One way to do that is to ask them questions that dovetail into what they are learning in class. Here are some suggestions in different subject areas to get you started:

Civics/Government: Why do Americans have the right to protest? What do you know about the 1st Amendment? What are some of the responsibilities associated with the rights we have?

U.S. and World History: What other movements in history have you studied? What political or economic events set the stage for these? Which movements were most successful in creating change? Why?

Media literacy: What do you think is the message behind these protests and who is producing it? Where would you go to get information about what is going on? How do you decide what information is credible?

You can also use the story to guide students on how to formulate opinions based on information. You could ask questions like: Do you have an opinion on the protests? If you don’t, how would you go about forming one? What kinds of information would you look for to prepare you to come to a conclusion? If you have an opinion on this story, what factors helped to shape your view?

For cost-free, commercial-free news produced for middle and high school classrooms, check out CNN Student News.

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soundoff (18 Responses)
  1. Peikovianii

    Teach children that the City of Los Angeles appeased the Occupy protesters for weeks by issuing flattering comments about them and by not enforcing existing laws against camping on the City Hall lawn. Now when the City asks the protesters to leave, the protesters want to be – and need to be – martyrs before they can go. Appeasement leads to pseudo-"rights" as the protesters have gotten used to the normalizing of a situation that was always illegal.

    November 27, 2011 at 12:16 am |
  2. dwaynel

    I told my kids that these are bums that either dropped out of college or went and took classes that lead to a worthless degree and they want the govt. to bail them out. They're loosers!

    November 26, 2011 at 7:30 pm |
  3. C J

    I would definitely remind them this will be in the history books, and ask them "how do they feel about being one of the generations here during that time?

    November 25, 2011 at 12:46 am |
  4. Duane R

    Are you freakin' kidding me? Who wrote this article? You mention critical thinking, but there's none shown in this posting. Instead, the author copied numerous generic leading questions...probably directly from a teaching guide/textbook. It looks like its written at a 4th grade reading level. Very sad.
    Peikovianni, I agree. Send the kids to the 3rd world...but not for the spiteful reasons you suggest. It would open their eyes to the world outside the US and reinvigorate critical thinking and problem solving to be applied to American issues. Unfortunately, the ones who don't want to come back are exactly the ones we need...individuals who remain self-sustaining in a global environment. In other words, there's a lot Americans need to learn.

    November 24, 2011 at 8:05 pm |

      When teaching the historic value of civil disobedience, teachers should be mindful of encouraging their students to rebel in the classroom. Also consider teaching the value of rebellious behavior in the workplace as these kids are preparing to seek jobs. Linear thought has no place in education. The goal is to teach our kids to think, not react. This article is reactive education and hardly insightful. Shame on CNN (again).

      November 26, 2011 at 8:44 am |
  5. Peikovianii

    Send our students to the Third World. The ones who want to come back are the ones we still want.

    November 23, 2011 at 10:31 pm |
    • Dave

      So, essentially, all of them. Odd way of making a truthful statement when you meant to insult a specific group of people.

      November 23, 2011 at 11:42 pm |
      • Peikovianii

        We may lose some of them to the rainforest, or to liberation movements, or to exotic religions, or to someone else's welfare system. Let them follow their bliss.

        November 24, 2011 at 11:13 am |
    • DrGonzo

      "Society often forgives the criminal; it never forgives the dreamer."
      — Oscar Wilde

      November 26, 2011 at 9:51 pm |
  6. Jeff

    Definitely a good teaching moment. Our schools don't teach our kids enough about how protest and civil disobedience have shaped our nation for the better. Not until we get to college or university do we get the chance to learn about how change really takes place in our country. Without this education we risk all becoming sheep and believing that everything the corporate 1% tell us is The Truth. Far from it. Again, great education for our youth. Maybe we can get out of the Republicrat stranglehood soon if we are able to teah our voters the real history of the US.

    November 23, 2011 at 5:42 pm |
  7. Derek

    Teachable? Isn't the education system slanted enough to the left as it is?

    November 23, 2011 at 9:25 am |
    • Persistence

      Genuinely curious: in what way is the system slanted to the left?

      November 23, 2011 at 11:45 pm |
      • blue7053

        The evolution of society, much of it since 1950, slants toward sharing rather than the rugged individualism essential in the creation of a nation out of wilderness. The conflict of these two philosophies is described in the stories of Ayn Rand, John Ford's movies, and the laws supporting 'Me and Mine" generated by the Republicans on behalf of the Super-Rich and the Uber-rich.

        November 24, 2011 at 12:45 am |
      • Peikovianii

        The evolution of society is as you describe it is pseudo-science based on Kant-Hegel-Marx-Prodhoun, that an unknowable reality shines-forth, and history illuminates the Collective Man with moments of self-sacrifice and mystic warfare. Reality is unreal, our minds can't understand it, Man is a mystery, ethics are situational not absolute, the hipster knows Life must be a hustle and success must be a crime. Creationist economics. You think the zeitgeist has designed an economy to match whatever skills you possess in a stoner Eden.

        November 24, 2011 at 11:34 am |
  8. Persistence

    The Occupy movement is definitely a teachable moment in our history, because political discourse has become so polarized, we can't seem to discuss opposing points of view without resorting to name-calling and denigrating those who disagree with us. Young people should be able to analyze what they consider to be effective leadership, at a point when the public feels their elected representatives are not listening to them, and when appointed leaders (eg, the Super Committee) are rendered ineffectual via ideological rigidity. Public education and civil disobedience are two crucial aspects of American civil society: they're both rights and privileges, and as such they should be discussed frequently among the young, and re-interpreted for upcoming generations facing new economic realities. With social media adding another dimension to news media, it's become even more important for educators and students to explore ethical ramifications of i-reporting and social memes. Given escalating events on the UC campuses, students in middle and high school should be free to forecast how their own opinions can become actions later in college life, which is when young adults try to realize their ideals. I appreciate that CNN has established this blog, and the topics and contributors who've added differing viewpoints to its purpose. Those who disagree should consider changing the channel and seeking out more like-minded venues.

    November 22, 2011 at 6:15 pm |
    • Peikovianii

      Responsible media must reveal that the Welfare State-Fascism-Nazism-Socialism-Communism are closely-related by economics on the political spectrum, and Classical Liberalism-Capitalism are at the other extreme. CNN has failed in its responsibilty to inform, not join to you and propagandize, or to demand exclusive time at the "speakers corner" of the public park now that you live there.

      November 24, 2011 at 11:46 am |
  9. Jay R.

    Is this a joke? Are teachers going to take the time to hammer on home the difference between protesting and occupying? Maybe they can cover how to handle rape internally? Im sorry, but as someone who also didn't hold the Tea Party in high regard...at least that was a protest. Maybe this is a teachable moment in how not to conduct yourself or how the news media shows clear bias in reporting. I didn't believe it myself until OWS started. Man oh man.

    November 22, 2011 at 5:31 pm |
  10. Bosko

    Teachable !!!!!!!!!!
    CNN is as nitwitted as it gets.
    These lazy occutards will be cooked up in big pots of menudo when the Latinos finally takeover in about five years.

    November 22, 2011 at 5:23 pm |