SCHOOLS | April 2, 2021
On one of the first warm days of the year, a large bus parked itself behind Ravenswood Elementary School. And it wasn’t a school bus. Ravenswood was the first CPS school to be paid a visit by the Mobile Museum of Tolerance, an interactive way for students to learn about the past in order to create a more inclusive future. Students watched a short video about the civil rights movement created completely out of primary sources such as photographs and video clips, and then had a group discussion connecting the video to current events.
Here’s what four Ravenswood eighth-graders—Lucas V., Hannah R., Mia M., and Yared—say they learned from this experience.
How would you describe the museum to someone else in a few words?
Mia: It was a cool experience. I loved the visual representation and how we had an opportunity to have our voice heard and our thinking pushed.
Lucas: The two words I would use to describe the experience were interesting and thought-provoking.
What is one thing you learned from the museum that you didn’t know before?
Hannah: I learned specifically about the important people involved in the civil rights movement. I also learned about quotes and important speeches that took place.
How did you connect this experience to what’s happening in the world right now?
Mia: We connected it to the LGBTQ+ community and how, throughout history, they weren’t seen as equal as other people. Now, through protests, they’ve been able to start having their voices be heard.
How do the lessons learned from the museum connect to starting high school and forming new communities?
Yared: When you get to high school, it’s good to get out of your bubble and meet and have conversations with new people.
Hannah: You’re going to meet so many people and there will always be an opportunity to connect with them. Everyone should be treated the same no matter what.
When you reflect on your time at Ravenswood, what has it taught you about building relationships with others who are different from you?
Lucas: At Ravenswood, everyone knows who you are and it’s fun to come to school because it’s like one big group of friends.
Hannah: A really important part of our school is the community building and making sure everyone feels safe and comfortable here. The teachers do a really good job of making sure that everyone has someone to talk to.
One of the words Yared used to describe the museum was “exciting” because he says it’s exciting to learn about human rights with your classmates at school. While Lucas says that his class had learned about the civil rights movement before, he said that watching the video added a new dimension to his understanding beyond simply hearing about or seeing still images of the past.
Mia says that the intolerance displayed within much of the video reminded her about the importance of having a diverse group of friends and learning from their different experiences. And Hannah says that the conversation after the video was one of her key takeaways because it helped her form connections between the past and the present.
For all four students, the Mobile Museum of Tolerance did more than shake up the typical school day. It encouraged them to keep learning about the past—good and bad—and challenged them to take what made the school culture at Ravenswood great with them to high school and beyond. As eighth-graders, they will soon go from being the oldest kids at school to the new students—but they’ll be up for the challenge.