18-09 Segment 1: Empowering Students To Be Leaders

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In the last few years, many high school teachers have changed how they are teaching civics in their classrooms. Rather than straying away from political discussions, many are using innovations in teaching to make their classrooms a space for students to engage with each other while discussing these controversial topics. Diana E. Hess, Dean of the School of Education at University of Wisconsin-Madison, and co-author of the book The Political Classroom: Evidence and Ethics in Democratic Education, and co-author Paula McAvoy, Program Director for the Centers for Ethics & Education at University of Wisconsin-Madison, studied how classrooms engage in these activities. Their goal was to find out how to best facilitate these discussions and the positive benefits that they had on students.

During their research, Hess and McAvoy observed different ways to make class discussions conducive to learning. Hess explains that one way to ensure that students had a good experience was to inform the students beforehand of the topic, so they could do research and prepare. She also noticed that students had an understanding of how to engage in controversial discussions with each other, but still maintain relationships with each other after class. Hess states that it was also essential that teachers were capable of directing the conversations to ensure that all views were being expressed. Most importantly, instructors had to make sure that offensive statements were omitted. In order for political discussions to work properly in the classroom, both the teachers and the students had to understand how to interact with each other in a mature and educational manner.

So, what are the long-term effects that these discussions have on students? McAvoy explains that it encourages young people to get more involved with campaigns and take political action much earlier on in their lives. By encouraging students to think critically about controversial and political topics, teachers are able to foster development and excitement for political conversation in younger generations.

Guest:

  • Diana E. Hess, Dean of the School of Education at University of Wisconsin-Madison, and co-author of The Political Classroom: Evidence and Ethics in Democratic Education
  • Paula McAvoy, Program Director for the Centers for Ethics and Education at University of Wisconsin-Madison, and co-author of The Political Classroom: Evidence and Ethics in Democratic Education

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18-09 Segment 2: The Value of Grit

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While there are a number of factors that can affect the success that an individual will have in the pursuit of a goal, grit is one with high value. Angela Duckworth, Professor of Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania, Scientific Director of the Character Lab, and author of Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance, defines grit as a combination of two things: perseverance in the pursuit of a long-term goal and passion for that goal.

While talent is an important determinant in achieving a goal, passion for that talent plays a role, too. Duckworth explains that it could take many years for an individual to develop their passion, but that it usually is something an individual finds interesting and meaningful. Without passion, an individual may lack the drive to persevere through obstacles.

Finding a passion may be difficult, but grit is something that can heavily influence how an individual deals with life. Duckworth believes that adults can instill in children the grit to achieve their goals from a young age. She explains that adults must model what it means to struggle and overcome obstacles. Particularly that struggling is not necessarily a bad thing because children often mimic the characteristics of their parents and role-models.

Guest:

  • Angela Duckworth, Professor of Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania, Scientific Director of the Character Lab, and author of Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance

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Culture Crash 18-09: Oscar Sunday

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Tonight’s the night. Hollywood’s biggest night – the “Academy Awards.” The nominations were announced a while ago, so we’re here to help jog your memory on some of the big contenders, as well as where you can watch them for some last-minute cramming:

Dunkirk is an intense re-telling of Operation Dynamo, the successful evacuation of over 300,000 British soldiers trapped on a French Beach by Nazis during World War II. The film was one of the biggest box office hits of the year and is nominated for the eight awards tonight, including Christopher Nolan for Best Director, Best Picture, and a number of technical categories. Dunkirk is available to purchase and rent in all formats including DVD.

Lady Bird is a coming-of-age drama of a young woman in Sacramento circa 2002. The movie tells the fraught and relatable story of a mother and a daughter struggling to get along over the course of a year. The film is writer Greta Gerwig’s directorial debut for which she became the fifth ever woman nominated. Saorise Ronan and Lauri Metcalf are nominated in each of the Actress categories and the film is nominated for a few other awards, including Best Picture. Lady Bird is available to rent or buy on Digital platforms.

Get Out was one of the most talked-about movies of the year and tells the story of Chris, an African-American man visiting his girlfriend’s white family. The premise sounds familiar until the movie takes a turn into thriller/horror territory. Director Jordan Peele became the first black director to be nominated for Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, and Best Picture on any one film. It is also his first film. The movie is available to purchase or rent in all formats, and is streaming on HBO Go.

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri follows the story of a grieving mother challenging the local police who have been unable to solve her daughter’s murder. The movie takes a controversial look at race and privilege in America, mostly through actor Sam Rockwell’s role, for which he is the favorite for Best Actor. The movie is also nominated for Best Picture and six other awards. The film is available to rent or buy on all platforms.

Finally, The Shape of Water is about a mute woman who falls in love with a strange  aquatic being that is held prisoner by the US government during the Cold War. Director Guillermo del Toro is the favorite to win Best Director and the film is a strong contender for Best Picture and a number of other awards, including Best Score, on the show tonight. The Shape of Water is available on digital streaming platforms.

Tonight, it’s almost certain those 5 movies will win the biggest awards of the night, so a last-minute cram may help you understand what all the fuss is about when they’re accepting their statues.

I’m Evan Rook.