Civil Discourse and Collaboration Towards Civic Friendship
For the past six years, 8th grade humanities teachers Ali McKersie (New York City) and Jared Morris (Virginia) have collaborated to create Building Bridges, a middle school humanities course that promotes students’ abilities to see beyond their “bubbles,” and engage in honest dialogue with students from very different backgrounds. Employing an innovative exchange model, supported by online technologies, 8th graders in New York City and rural Virginia have come together to develop projects addressing important national issues. Students learn about each other's worlds and perspectives, debate timely topics, write poems and opinion pieces and collaborate on a project of common concern.
As their work has evolved, and interest grew from other educators and organizations, they made plans to grow the initiative to further its reach. Over the course of this next year, Bank Street is expanding Building Bridges, and has invited an inaugural cohort of teachers from NYC and rural Virginia public schools to participate. Together, the teachers will develop curriculum modules and facilitation skills to scale Building Bridges, with the goal of positively impacting hundreds of students.