SIDEBAR :: Teaching Respect

How does a school that takes a human-rights based approach to education work? We find out.
Loring Nicollet Alternative School is a member of the Poor People's Economic Human Rights Campaign. Students decide which of the campaign's events they want to participate in. Michael Gabrelcik and two other students attended the January 2006 World Social Forum in Caracas, Venezuela.

On the south side of downtown Minneapolis, Minn., about 45 students of different races and ages, life experiences, and socio-economic backgrounds are attending a school that takes a human rights-based approach to education. At the Loring Nicollet Alternative School (LNAS), the credit and graduation requirements are the same as other schools. But something more is taking place in the classrooms of LNAS: students and teachers are collaborating to develop the curriculum, and incorporating human rights through explicitly respecting students' rights.

LNAS focuses on creating respect for individuality, on having a curriculum that is multicultural and free of gender bias, and on building a community, said Kelly Place, a science teacher at LNAS.

LNAS is a member of the Poor People's Economic Human Rights Campaign. Students participate in the Campaign by raising money, taking part in protests, and attending events as close as Saint Paul and as far away as Venezuela to speak about the rights of poor people.

LNAS believes in teaching the next generation about human rights because all people have value, Place says. In order to instill the idea that everyone is entitled to human rights, we have to teach students what those rights are.

“If we don't recognize this, and show that we value [human rights] in an educational setting,” Place said, “we are going to continue to live in a world where some people are not even seen, are oppressed, are discriminated against, and even abused.”

— Sarah Kuck

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