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History Teacher Nassim Reports on Fifth Floor Front’s First Farm Trip of the Year

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Dear Fifth Floor Front Families, 

We’re having a fun, if slightly wet, week here at the Farm. The seventh-graders have started their farm requirements and the eighth-graders are making progress on theirs. Farm work goes on as usual, and eighth-graders are sharing ideas with [Farm Program Director] John about extending the Farm as MCS doubles in size.

We have started our mini-unit that Tom and I created on power with one-hour lessons each night. This will lay a foundation for them to analyze power as we go through our curriculum. If you want to get a sense of what we’re talking about, this video introduces it well.

For movie night we screened The Matrix. Somehow many of them have not seen this film! It makes for a great metaphor about colonization, slavery, power and control, and has strong female characters, a diverse cast and the world’s most versatile actor, Keanu Reeves. I also like how Reeves’ character is forced to throw aside all assumptions about reality and struggle with the self-imposed limitations in his mind. Afterwards, we had a very philosophical conversation about the nature of reality, the metaphors in the movie, social control and even sleep walking (don’t ask).

By this point they are pretty much experts at this rural lifestyle and have made our lives pretty easy. They have cooked delicious meals and snacks, including chicken soup, pesto green beans, garlic French bread, chili, pizza and more. It’s always entertaining to watch them work away.

Finally, in case you want to engage your children in a discussion about power, below are some quotes from the video. Study them and try to sneak them into conversation without their noticing.

I have to say that this is really a great group. From a selfish point of view, they have been well behaved, kind to each other and pleasant. They say really interesting things during class, and are generally so much better than any of us probably were at their age. 

Nassim

Civic Power Ted Talk

“Power is never static or unchanging. So if you aren’t taking action, you are being acted upon.”

“Power is like water, it flows like a current through everyday life. Politics is the work of harnessing that flow in a direction you prefer. Policy making is an effort to freeze and perpetuate a particular flow.”

“Power compounds. Power begets more power. So does powerlessness.”

“Your challenge is to learn how to read power and write power.” 

“You have the right to be an author of change.”

“Do you want power to benefit everyone or only you?”

6 Sources of Civic Power

  • Physical Force
  • Wealth
  • State Action (democracy, dictatorship)
  • Social Norms (personal interaction, change in beliefs of values)
  • Ideas
  • Numbers