HHS social studies teacher Jason Monson discusses examples of hate speech with students in his American government class.
Huntley High School sophomores in American government social studies class learned about critical thinking for decoding and rejecting online hate through a workshop presented by representatives from The Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Mobile Museum of Tolerance (MMOT) on December 4-6, 2023.
Aimed at students in grades 6-12, the Combat Hate digital media literacy workshop provides students with tools to identify and analyze potentially harmful media, stand up against hate online, and develop strategies to create a positive social media presence. The online safety curriculum is aligned with International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) digital citizenship standards and built on foundational media literacy skills.
“Our kids were very forthcoming about the fact that they are exposed to hateful and offensive messages on social media on a daily basis,” said HHS social studies teacher Jason Monson. “This program does a phenomenal job at helping students understand why this sort of messaging is wrong, what it can look like, the impact it can have outside of the message itself, and provides them with important techniques they can utilize to speak out about hateful content when they come across it.”
“I was surprised how many people see it [hate speech] on a daily basis and do nothing about it,” said sophomore Kaelyn Keegan. “Now that I know how big of an issue it is, when I see hateful comments I’ll be sure to report them and do things to help prevent hate speech in and out of school. I will be talking more with my friends about how this is an ongoing issue and how we can be doing more.”
According to MMOT director Jacqueline Carroll, “Our goal is to help students become more conscious, critical consumers of social media and to help them develop skills to recognize, analyze, and safely combat identity-based hate speech online.”
“Through interactive examples and thought-provoking discussions, our students were exposed to diverse perspectives and encouraged to critically analyze media messages,” said HHS social studies teacher Renee Fowler. “The Mobile Museum of Tolerance successfully promoted empathy, respect, and open-mindedness, equipping our students with essential skills to navigate the complexities of the modern media landscape.”
The Combat Hate workshop opportunity was made possible through the Democracy School Initiative, which supports a network of high schools, including HHS, that are committed to bringing civic learning experiences to their students.
The Mobile Museum of Tolerance will repeat the Combat Hate Workshop for students taking American government during the second semester. The MMOT bus will also come out in February 2025 to present a civil rights workshop for U.S. history classes.