High school is a time when you really start to come into your own, creating viewpoints that will last a lifetime. Discrimination, underlying or outright, may be realized for the first time. High school is also a time when teens are most vulnerable, sometimes afraid to speak their mind for fear of reactions from their peers. So, how does one become the person they want to be if they're concerned about what others think?
That's where education comes in, at least in some high schools. A recent article in The News-Gazette featured a high school class taking a look at "-isms." I commend Urbana High School for including this topic in the class curriculum. They're covering racism, classicism, ablism, agism, sexism, heterosexism and anti-Semitism – topics some adults may need a refresher in. Students called this class an eye opener and are working to create action plans on how they can spread awareness of the topics covered in their social justice class.
MTV is taking on this topic through one of its new programs, "If You Really Knew Me (trailer)," beginning tonight at 11pm ET. What they're calling a "challenge day" and "breakthrough experience" has the potential to break down barriers and teach teens to embrace differences. Will this be an extension of the reality shows MTV has focused on in the last few years or will it truly break the mold? The program states it is unscripted allowing students to connect in their own ways. In my opinion, "If you Really Knew Me" can only have a positive effect, whether it be large or small is up to the students. As long as they are willing to participate, conversation will be made and openness created. (If you're feeling so inclined, you can tweet your #IfYouReallyKnewMe message… interested to follow this hashtag.)
I had a different high school experience than what is portrayed in this trailer. A) I went to school with a bunch of girls; B) We wore uniforms; C) We shared the commonality of religion, but I have always been fascinated by the high school experience. It all relates back to the question of how to do your own thing when it may not be the norm or readily accepted. Hopefully, with more programs like the high schools here becoming commonplace, students will have the opportunity thrive in their school environment, leaving high school an educated, open-minded individual ready to share their knowledge with others not so fortunate.