Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The White Rose and introducing the contest

Several years ago, when I first presented the White Rose Student Essay Contest to my 8th grade language arts class, the students began their research with different motivations. Some began earnestly devoted to the topic, while others focused on the competition aspect or grade. The next year, I decided to change my approach. I offered the White Rose Essay Contest as an option for a research project, as opposed to a requirement. This way, I hoped that the students choosing to work on the project did so because they were interested in the topic. Honestly, I was still not satisfied with this approach.

Suddenly, I decided that perhaps students needed to understand more about the people this contest commemorates. The next year, I presented students with the following quote, "An end in terror is preferable to terror without end." – Sophie Scholl.
We discussed the quote and I took the time introducing information about The White Rose, who they were and what they represented, as well as their fate. Obviously, the students were shocked by the extreme response to freedom of speech. Many of the students expressed a more genuine interest in the purpose of this essay contest.

I no longer teach language arts, however, at one time I had thought about having a parent-student evening. I considered showing the movie, Sophie Scholl: The Final Days. (It is important to note that this is not a documentary, but rather a haunting dramatization of the final six days of Scholl’s life, from arrest to trial and sentence. This video is available from the MCHE Resource Center.) I felt this might be a good opportunity for students to have dialogue with their parents, as well as recruit parent support for their project.

Overall, I think the White Rose Essay contest provides a wonderful opportunity for students and I feel it gives them the opportunity to reflect on their own responsibilities as young people.

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