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Summer SAVY 2017, Session 3/Day 4- Anthropological Approaches (Rising 6th/7th)

Posted by on Thursday, June 29, 2017 in SAVY.

Blog day 4: Power and Empathy

Today, we focused on bridging specific knowledge from anthropological research with two macro-concepts: empathy and power.  Our students navigated these challenging ideas by drawing on all we have learned in the last three days as well as their prior knowledge from other experiences.  I was very impressed!  We’ve got a great team of anthropologists in our class.

 Students read an article about the Fort Negley homeless camp in Nashville.  We walked through the steps of doing power analysis skills to identify how different actors had more or less power, how each group exercised power, and their source(s) of power.  They also came up with excellent ideas to help homeless people including promoting homeless voices, offering people affordable housing, and helping them find stable work.  Our anthropologists demonstrated their willingness to help by putting together backpacks for homeless people with local non-profit Lace Up With Love.  We then discussed the difference between empathy and sympathy.  Students connected empathy to cultural relativism, which we have been learning about since day 1. Good anthropologists recognize the need to walk in someone else’s shoes.  Empathy allows us to form genuine human connections.

 In the afternoon, we watched a variety of videos about different kinds of inequality, tackling the tricky subjects of race, class, and gender. I assigned each group a different kind of inequality and asked them to role-play a scenario to demonstrate it. Then the rest of the class used their power analysis skills to identify the type of inequality and the sources of power.  They came up with ways to make the power relations more equal.

 We ended the day by going over various case studies we have covered in class and identifying the kinds of inequality present.  Students found that in many cases, socioeconomic, class, and racial inequalities overlapped.  They do not know the term yet (they will tomorrow) but these anthropologists now understand the idea of intersectionality.

 I am so proud to be teaching a group of young people who are trying to understand the world and make it a better place.  They were able to discuss heavy topics with respect and empathy. Tomorrow, they are going to put these skills to practice in solving real world problems!

Ms. Emma Banks

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