Caught between China and the U.S., I feel both love and guilt

Caught between China and the U.S., I feel both love and guilt

Born in China, I decided to study in the U.S. I love my home country but harbor guilt as I become less and less Chinese over time. Photo by Markus Winkler This story was a runner-up in News Decoder’s Ninth Storytelling Contest. Artist’s Statement: I grew up in...

Growing up means eventually coming to terms with one’s upbringing. Doing so can be especially challenging for young people straddling different cultures. In a five-stanza poem, Li Keira Yin of The Thacher School explores the contradictions between the world of her Chinese grandparents and her life at a boarding school in the United States. News Decoder helps young people around the world extend their horizons and learn to appreciate different viewpoints. Some have the advantage of confronting opposing outlooks at an early age, and Yin demonstrates her maturity in reconciling the inherent antagonism between her two very distinct cultures.
Exercise: Ask each student to identify a fault line within their family and to write an essay or poem that is sympathetic to each side.

Why don’t more U.S. schools teach about climate change?

Why don’t more U.S. schools teach about climate change?

Most Americans want schools to teach about global warming. But skeptics and lack of teacher training make it hard to implement climate change education. Students learn about water filtration as part of their climate literacy curriculum in Portland, Oregon, 30 January...

Climate deniers have lost the political high ground in the United States, but the struggle to combat global warming has only just begun. Lucy Jaffee of La Jolla Country Day School explores why teaching about climate change can help reduce carbon emissions, but also why U.S. schools are having such a hard time fostering climate literacy. She interviewed a local expert and two teachers in her examination of the challenges schools face in meeting the expectations of parents who want climate change in the curriculum. Ask your students to explore how climate change is being taught in their school, and if not, why not?

South Korea offers lessons for U.S. social movements

South Korea offers lessons for U.S. social movements

A pro-democracy movement in South Korea offers lessons to two U.S. social movements — against police brutality and for a defeated ex-president. Black Lives Matter protesters hold their phones aloft in Portland, Oregon, 20 July 2020. (AP Photo/Noah Berger) This story...

Sociologists are the first to admit they are apt to speak their own tongue, so reporting on sociological research can tie even experienced reporters in knots. And high school students are not always interested in events of half a century ago. So it’s a rare pleasure when a student connects a pro-democracy movement in South Korea during the 1960s and ‘70s with social movements in the United States today, and renders sociology understandable to the untrained ear in the process. Christina MacCorkle of The Thacher School takes academic research about a country far from her school’s California campus and connects it to current events in the U.S., using simple language to convey complex academic arguments. Many students are trained to write academic essays, but MacCorkle enlightens those of us outside of academia.

Newspaper run by prisoners offers a new chance to convicts

Newspaper run by prisoners offers a new chance to convicts

Prisoners run a newspaper from inside a California jail. The monthly raises awareness of social justice issues and offers a new chance to convicts. Jonathan Chiu (Photo by Christie Goshe) This story won a third prize in News Decoder’s Ninth Storytelling Contest....

Elena Towsend-Lerdo introduces us to a convicted murderer who finds redemption at a newspaper run by prisoners in California’s oldest jail. The San Quentin News is online and accessible to readers around the world. Townsend-Lerdo interviews Jonathan Chiu, who was released after serving 16 years of his 50-year sentence, and a journalism professor who trains prisoners, providing first-hand insight into incarceration and rehabilitation. Those are meaty issues, but the student at La Jolla Country Day School avoids sweeping statements to offer us a peek into the U.S. criminal justice system and a unique path to atonement. Who could your students interview to learn about criminal justice?

Contests