Tweeting Precious Knowledge

At the end of February, 120 9th-grade students and their teachers at E. L. Haynes Public Charter High School in Washington, D.C. watched the documentary film Precious Knowledge and reacted to it in small advisory groups.

Throughout the screening, students were able to tweet their reactions, questions, and connections.

The principal, Caroline Hill, kicked it off with the tweet, “How precious is knowledge?” The students sent dozens of tweets during the film, capturing their insights, indignation, and inspiration:

Ninth grade students watching “Precious Knowledge” and tweeting their reactions.

  • I liked it; it showed how kids at an ordinary school fought for their rights to have the class, learned to stand up for their rights.
  • When you fight for what you believe in, sometimes you’ll get shut down, but that doesn’t mean you have to give up.
  • We live in a society that’s full of ignorance, but to get rid of that ignorance we give knowledge to the people.
  • The boy named Gilbert makes me value my education and his story motivates me to finish school and become successful.
  • The US was never a free country to all of its citizens, just the few who had political power and voice.
  • When you were young, everyone always told you to fight for what you believe in, and when you do, they go and shut you down.
  • I believe that they also made those rules b/c they don’t want to believe the truth of how America truly was built.
  • After watching the video I began to think about what it is I can fight for, the kids were brave and discrimination is wrong.
  • A part that I thought stuck out was when a teacher/parent said a student doesn’t dislike learning but the idea of school and I believe it’s true b/c when a student learns something new they are surprised and fascinated but only when a teacher makes it seem like a fun thing to learn.

In one advisory group after the screening, students listed their emotions and their questions. Their list of feelings included: informed, disrespected, angry at the people who made the law, confusion, and strength.

Their list of questions included:

  • Can Jan Brewer sleep at night?
  • How does this affect people in other states?
  • Why did our state not make a big deal out of this?
  • Why is there so much hate toward Latinos there?
  • What constitutes racism?

Students will have the opportunity to continue to reflect, debrief, and take action in the coming weeks.

—Submitted by Barrie Moorman, 9th-grade teacher, E.L. Haynes Public Charter School