There are many ways to be a leader, and we at Aurora School in Oakland believe students should practice them all. Every day, we give students of different ages opportunities to work together side-by-side and learn from one another what it means to step up academically and socially. The world needs leaders who are as heart smart as they are head smart, and that’s precisely how Aurora graduates are described when they go on to the schools of their choice.
Every year students at Aurora participate in Integrated Art, a deep dive into a theme that stems from their social studies curriculum. This year, as part of their What is Civilization? unit, students considered Unheard Voices. As they rotated between classrooms and Aurora’s Art Room, they considered voices not often studied.
The unit started with a social experiment in which the students themselves experienced different privileges (or none at all). Then, after a meaningful discussion, they decided on different emotions one with an unheard voice might feel. The Wall of Emotion pictured here represents unheard voices throughout US history. The goal is to knock this wall down as students learn to use their power to help all voices to not only be heard, but also appreciated.
Here is how several students described their work:
Every Wednesday for the past four weeks, we have been doing Integrated Art. This integrated art is based on Unheard Voices. We’ve studied four groups of people: those with mental incapacities, Native Americans during “discovery time”, women during the Colonial Period, and African Americans during slavery and beyond. We’ve read books, painted our emotions, compared styles of music, designed and created masks, and created a special quilt. Quilts had a secret code to help slaves escape the plantations. Owners never found out about the code! We decided on a message to send through quilt codes, chose designs, and attached them together to make a secret code.