This article is an excerpt from The New York Times lesson plan "The Reckoning: Teaching About the #MeToo Moment and Sexual Harassment With Resources From The New York Times" originally published on January 25, 2018 and can be found here.
The #MeToo movement has inspired a “tsunami” of stories, from newspaper front pages to social media to private conversations between friends and relatives. It is, many believe, a watershed cultural moment.
Has it touched your community or school? How have you and your students responded?
As The Times’s new gender editor, Jessica Bennett, writes:
In the weeks since The New York Times and The New Yorker first broke stories of the Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein’s decades-long abuse of women he worked with, the hashtag #MeToo has exploded on social media as a vehicle for women to share their stories. For perhaps the first time in history, powerful men are falling, like dominos, and women are being believed.
But the #MeToo moment has become something larger: a lens through which we view the world, a sense of blinders being taken off.
In this unit, we pull together a wealth of Times reporting, opinion and video to suggest several ways to begin confronting the questions and issues the movement raises. We asked Christopher Pepper, a health educator in the San Francisco Unified School District who helped design the district’s high school sex education curriculum, to co-write this piece with Learning Network staff. Before beginning, we suggest reading our advice on talking about sensitive issues in the news.
Visit The Learning Network to find readings, questions and activities to support each of the following subtopics, which you can use alone or in any combination depending on your students and curriculum:
--Warm-Up: Students are invited to reflect on what they already know about the movement, and t0 help set ground rules for a respectful, productive class discussion on the topic.
-- Build Background Knowledge: Using a Times RetroReport video, students trace the evolution of sexual harassment in the workplace from the defining of the term in the mid-1970s, to Anita Hill’s testimony in 1991, to the current deluge of allegations against powerful men in entertainment, media, politics and other industries.
--Understand the Impact of Sexual Harassment on Individuals and Society Today: Using a "jigsaw" method, students read articles about harassment in several different setting and industries today, then come together to discuss what they learned. The class then conducts a "barometer exercise" to gauge opinions on statements from the various pieces, such as "Sexual harassment is mostly a women’s issue."
--Has #MeToo Gone Too Far? Debate the Issue: Using evidence from articles and Op-Eds that represent a range of opinions on this question, students engage in one of several kinds of structured debates or discussions.
--Bring it Home: Sexual Harassment and Teenagers: Students research and examine their own school policies around sexual harassment and/or consider what is taught about issues like consent in their current sex ed classes, then make recommendations for addressing any lacks they may find.
--Examine the Role of Technology and Social Media in Sexual Harassment: After watching a video about the dangers of teen sexting, students share their opinions about how teenagers can navigate this tricky subject.
--Consider What One Individual Can Do: Students read an article about how individual teenagers can help make positive change, then consider what actions they might be willing to take.
--Respond to What You've Learning By Creating Something: Using Times mentor texts for each, students choose from ideas like making art, remixing beauty culture, interviewing people in other generations, or creating a campaign for their peers around the issues and ideas in the #MeToo movement.
For more preK-12 lessons and activities, explore Share My Lesson’s #MeToo collection.