Playing at poverty

Social studies students at a Colorado high school skip showers, panhandle for lunch money and sleep in their cars in the school parking lot as part of a class designed to teach them to be activists.

As part of their assignment, students agree to wear one set of clothes for several days straight (even if they spill salsa or other staining foods on themselves, as several students admitted doing Wednesday).

They also avoid regular social circles for a week, forgo showers for a couple of days, panhandle for lunch money in the cafeteria and temporarily give up cars and cell phones.

Tonight, they’ll sleep in their cars in the school parking lot.

The goal, said Laura Brayman, executive director of HomeAid Colorado, is to open students’ eyes to the realities of homelessness — which increasingly affects teens and families – and perhaps prod them to activism.

Marissa Leyva, a 17-year-old senior, is the best panhandler, possibly because she scrounged food from friends early in high school, when her family was struggling. Leyva has doubts about the project.

“I felt like I was mocking homelessness instead of helping it,” she said.

Maybe she’s too close to real poverty to get a thrill from playing at it.

Via Interested Participant, who posts the Five Rules of Homelessness.

About Joanne

Comments

  1. People’s Republic of Colorado at it again….Again, it’s learning to think not what to think that is important for kids to learn. Why is it no one gets that???

  2. Why should taxpayer-financed schools be teaching students how to be activists? In support of what causes should the students become activists?

    Seems to me this is indoctrination, not teaching.

  3. With so many stories about marginal or declining performance by our public school students, you’d think teachers and administrators would think twice before signing on for these social activism stunts. If the students are mastering the 3 R’s, as well as History & Science, etc., then and only then should these hare-brained stunts be considered – and then rejected as unfit for a public high school to engage in.
    The cruel irony is that the students are taken away from being prepared to go out in the world and earn a decent living on their own, making it al the more likely that we’ll have another generation of homeless, about which the next generation of activists can indoctrinate the next generation of high school students.

  4. I wonder, were the students aloud to get drunk and high with the money they panhandle, and then harass others when the come down.

  5. Andy Freeman says:

    > If the students are mastering the 3 R’s, as well as History & Science, etc., then and only then

    But, if they’re not, the practice at being homeless might do them some good. Except that I suspect that high school teachers might not know the relevant skills.

  6. I believe this session should come with a disclaimer, something along the lines of “Since we have done such a poor job preparing you for future successful participation in society, we believe it necessary that you learn the basics of homelessness as a safety net.”

    It bothers me when schools regard their role as not merely instructors of a curriculum but also to indoctrinate students as to a particular social perspective.

  7. Bob Diethrich says:

    Ooooh Brad K! Good One! I am adding that one to my arsenal in battling school idocy!

    Well Done!

  8. A few years ago, some students, I think from Georgia, camped out in tents to understand what it was like to be homeless. Apparently they had televisions in their tents.

  9. Insufficiently Sensitive says:

    Next, these ingenious instructors will urge the students to acquire first-hand experience of STDs and teen pregnancy by having unprotected sex while they sleep in their cars in the school parking lot. Let no part of the real world be too remote for these activists-in-training.

  10. Sean Kinsell says:

    “Parents signed off on the project, although Dallman said many shared a request: Make it tougher.”

    Okay, that’s the part that seriously creeped me out. Making like Marie Antoinette farming at Le Petit Trianon is probably inevitable in these projects, but if parents want their children to learn what straitened circumstances are like, why must they outsource the lesson to teachers?

  11. Jack Tanner says:

    “I felt like I was mocking homelessness instead of helping it,” she said.

    God bless you Marissa, you’ve got more sense than all of these dumbass administrators and activists put together. Maybe the schools should emphasize the need to make sure that you’re able to be employed, handle responsibility, not get addicted to drugs or alcohol, not go spawning little ones you can’t take care of and other things that will prevent you from becoming homeless instead of trying to reinforce victimology.

  12. but if parents want their children to learn what straitened circumstances are like, why must they outsource the lesson to teachers?

    That’s easy. Most children will accept vastly higher demands from school and people that they don’t know well, than from parents. Can you imagine the arguments if parents told their children to sleep outside in the cold? On the other hand, teacher tells them the same thing and “that’s just the way it is”.

  13. no, it’s that if the parents tried the “homeless” lesson on their kids, someone (perhaps even the kids) would doubtless call Child Protective Services to report it as abuse.