"The Ten Questions are not just an add-on to my project. They bring in a new critical lens through which my students can read the historical figures and events from a participatory democracy outlook." – Sohyun An
Sohyun An, associate professor of education at Kennesaw State University, teaches an elementary social studies methods course. She applies the Ten Questions in a class project in which elementary preservice teachers research and an act out the lives of influential but unrecognized female activists in a role play called Unsung Women Change Agents.
Despite persistent marginalization and disenfranchisement throughout American history, women have bravely stood up against those patriarchal forces to fight for their vision of a more just world. But for every Rosa Parks or Susan B. Anthony, many, many more activists remain relatively unknown, left out of school textbooks and lost to public memory. In An’s class, preservice teachers explore the forgotten stories of the women who have sparked social change in America. Using the Ten Questions, preservice teachers identified such a female change makers and wrote narratives about their life and civic efforts. One day in March, participants threw a tea party in which they role played their selected change makers based on these narratives. See the original description of the project here.
In 2017, KSU preservice teachers wrote about a wide range of women from throughout American history who pushed for a number of different of causes, like Grace Lee Boggs, Lee Miller, Helen Keller, Lillian Smith, Eliza Briggs, Elizabeth Blackwell, and Bella Savitsky Abzug. Their narratives were introduced in student-made brochures based on the Ten Questions.
What made An adopt the Ten Questions framework for her project? An has been avoiding a superhero-centered approach to history education, especially at the elementary level. She says the Ten Question framework allows her to explore civic activists without falling into hero worship. “[The] Ten Questions are not just an add-on to my project,” she said, “but they bring in a critical lens through which my students can analyze the historical figures from a participatory democracy outlook. Our democracy is not built on the epics of a few superheroes but on the sacrifice and collective efforts made by a great number of ordinary citizens. The latter is as important as – sometimes more important than – the former.”
See the student projects listed below.