Justice, what is justice? It is hard to see a disadvantage using such an open ended question. It is generative and can send one in different directions. What is justice in the school system, in rural America and so on and so forth? I think it is a matter of creativity that will take the question in one direction or another. Because it is an essential question it feels like there are no limits. I guess, the disadvantage, however, is for those who may feel that the question forces them into a theme they may not want to tackle at this point and time. Will it be too intense for some who may want to explore something lighter? It works as kind of an umbrella for my music and social struggle concept but I am part of a team and Grace and I haven’t had a chance to discuss this yet so I am not sure what she is thinking.

An essential question can never be limiting since the very essence of it is always generative. Don’t we always want to open up possibilities for learners by putting them in a position where ideas flow freely, concepts connect to the self and most importantly make the possibilities for engagement infinite? Given the constraints of a three-week experience, how can we best meet students’ expectations while feeding our own passions as teachers? It is a bit anxiety provoking just how much accountability needs to go into planning this class.

Given the constraints of this three-week learning expedition, the use of an overarching question is the most effective way to meet students’ expectations while feeding our own passions as teachers. The formation of a community of learners is critical to the success of any learning experience whether it be for a few hours or a few months. The use of an essential question is an effective way to bring the community together as it allows for the harnessing of an array of experiences approached from different entry points. The outcome can only result in a rich compilation of experiences and ideas around a timely topic with relevance for all of us.


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Youth Voices is an open publishing platform for youth. The site is organized by teachers with support from the National Writing Project. Opinions expressed by writers are their own.

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