In the first week of this school term Helen Squires used this as an opportunity to expand the horizons and challenge the thinking of her Year 7 and 8 class (11-12 year olds). The students shared their thinking via a written piece on their blogs. This response excerpt is from the blog of Crusader, a year 7 boy:
This speech had a message to it, and it was telling brown people especially to stop limiting yourself by listening to the stereotypes because they are not true. Some messages in his speech relate to some of the messages that we have at our school here such as; Strive to succeed, Champions never Give Up and much more.
My response to this speech is that, brown people like me can do anything we want as long as you have determination in what you do. It doesn’t have to be a sports star or a music person but you can be anything else like a lawyer or even the next Prime Minister.
There are many more such pieces from his classmates linked at the bottom of this post.
The Education Gazette, New Zealand's magazine where teachers find their next job, decided to post the entire transcript of the speech in this week's edition and is well worth checking out.
However, a particular delight for this class was receiving an email from Joshua's mother who had discovered their blog responses online and gave them some encouragement including;
I am Joshuas mother and it wasn't so long ago he was the same age as yourselves. He didn't have a blog like you all do but he would write into a journal all his thoughts. Some were like poetic prayers and others were scribbles of inspiration he would pick up from people, or books he was reading. We were encouraged by reading your blogs of the inspirations you all had chosen to keep in your heart and mind from Joshuas 'brown brother-spoken word'.
This was such an affirmation of our 'Learn Create Share' pedagogy on many levels and yet another example of how the online world our students inhabit can enrich their lives and experiences.
Links to other students' reponses below: