Social Justice Update – An Interview with Teacher Kate Leslie
Kate Leslie, who teaches Social Justice, updated the BHS Innovation Fund recently about the course. First launched over fifteen years ago with a grant from the Fund, the Social Justice elective explores issues of equality and discrimination with regard to race and sexuality, and prepares students to become social justice activists. Social Justice is open to students in 10th-12th grades. Read more about this on our Programs page and in the BHS Course Catalog.
Video by BHS student Sasha B. for the Brookline Lens class. Brookline Lens is a student-run business that provides photo and video production services to BHS and the community. Lens is currently in its second year of grant funding from the BHS Innovation Fund.
Q: What excites you most about the course?
KL: There are special issues affecting the world right now that are constantly changing. Every year they are different so there is always something new to discuss which grabs students’ attention, issues they really care about. Often students find their passion and in turn their careers.
Q: Do students learn certain skills and information that they can apply to the real world?
KL: Students in the course hold many different beliefs and perspectives and care deeply about different issues. The course teaches students how to have difficult conversations in a constructive way and respect different ideologies which are crucial life skills.
Q: Do students need to meet certain requirements in order to take the course?
KL: Students have to apply to the course and write two paragraphs; one describing an issue they care about and one describing something they followed through on. I am looking for students who are reliable, would be good ambassadors, feel passionate about certain issues and want to learn. I also want a well rounded group with varying interests and who bring different viewpoints to the table.
Q: What do you think former students would say is the most important thing they learned from your course?
KL: I think former students would say that social justice can be applied through various passions, such as through business, art, theatre, science, etc. Carrying the social justice work on can mean different things, it doesn’t just mean holding a placard at a protest. Also, social justice takes time to achieve change; it requires patience and often the process takes longer than expected. This is an important lesson for students to learn, especially in a society where we are used to and often expect instant gratification.