7 Steps for Creating a Socially Conscious Community (2/12)
How can an individual or community take personal or collective responsibility in a society that is indifferent towards the lives of sex-workers and their children? What steps can we take to turn our awareness about human rights abuses into sustainable and meaningful social action?
Note: For additional materials on how to teach human rights issues in your classroom, instructors might consider reviewing the UDHR introductory lesson in The Universal Declaration of Human Rights Poster Series and Teacher’s Guide. For more information on obtaining a copy of this guide, see http://www.amnestyusa.org/education/teaching_guides/
In the documentary Born Into Brothels, the childrens’ choices and actions are limited by society’s refusal to educate them and nurture them so that they can be integrated into communities outside of their own. In Calcutta, prostitution appears to be an apparent part of life, yet the sex-workers and their children are routinely denied their universal human rights. Thus, the single most compelling question that arises is: how can this group find a voice? How can various groups, which the law neither protects nor acknowledges form a sense of community? How can these individual children make choices and take actions that will impact the larger forces that continue to objectify their existence? Do these individuals have the power to create sustainable and meaningful change? This lesson will explore the power of individuals both in the film and in our own communities. The first exercise will outline the steps that each individual can take in creating a socially conscious global community. The second exercise will take an inside look at how we can generate cycles of positive action to eliminate human rights injustice within our communities, countries, and even the world.
This is part 2 of 12 from the Born Into Brothels Curriculum Companion. To view the entire curriculum, please visit: Born Into Brothels: Companion Curriculum.
Time Required: apx. 1 hour/one class
Students will be able to:
• Understand the steps that one can take to turn awareness of a human rights abuse into action against that human rights abuse
• Analyze the compelling factors which can influence personal action in any given situation
• Demonstrate an understanding of the concepts of ‘power of the individual’, ‘responsibility’ and ‘positive action’
• Brainstorm ways in which an individual could take responsibility, either personally or collectively, to create effective and sustainable change in situations of human rights abuses
1. Allow students a few minutes to review Handout 1.1: About the Children. Present them with some of the following questions. Allow students 5 or 10 minutes to think through these questions. Students do not have to answer these questions out loud. Instead, students should simply keep these questions in mind throughout this lesson.
1. What is an educator?
2. Who can be an educator?
3. Who would you consider to be ‘educators’ in this film?
4. What medium(s) did they use to educate us?
5. What did they educate us about?
6. In what ways can you as students use Zana and the children as examples to become educators in your own way?
7. What could you educate about?
8. Would you consider Zana and the children to be human rights educators? How and why?
9. What do you think the term human rights educator means?
10. Is human rights education important? Why? Why not?
2. Copy Handout 1.2A (see the attached document Appendix 1) onto the chalkboard or photocopy it for students. Allow students a few minutes to examine and become familiar with the diagram.
3. Discuss the following with students:
• Paolo Freire (1921-1997) was a Brazilian scholar who published a book called “Pedagogy of the Oppressed”. One of Freire’s main teachings was that every individual could become a human rights educator.
• A human rights educator is anyone who raises awareness about an issue and precipitates change through verbal discourse or artistic discourse
• According to Freire, an individual must go through the 7 steps outlined in Handout 1.2A in order to become a human rights educator. Ask students what each of these steps mean to them.
4. Ask students to consider the following situation: Their friend was bullied in school today. Is being bullied a violation of this person’s human rights? Why or why not? Ask students to map their possible process of becoming human rights educators about their friend’s experience by using the 7 step diagram. (If students are unclear on this use Handout 1.2B to guide them through it)
5. Once students have completed this mapping activity, discuss with them the following points that Freire believed:
• Any individual can engage in these 7 steps and thus, any individual can become an educator
• Every time an individual goes through these 7 steps, he/she becomes more empowered as an educator
• Every time an educator inspires someone else to start his own 7 step transformation, then that educator is redistributing his power
• The redistribution of power to other individuals starts a cycle in which more and more individuals become involved with the 7 step process and become inspired to pass on what they have learned or to pay it forward
• When an individual redistributes power by educating others, then he/she is contributing to the creation of a socially conscious global community that is sensitive to human rights. Discuss with students why this is important.
Critical Thinking Questions
Based on the previous exercise, if there is time, consider the following questions in a class discussion. Students should use specific examples from the film to support their answers. Consider dividing students into groups and assigning 2 or 3 questions to each group depending on the length of each question. Allow groups to share their answers with the class after about 10 minutes of group discussion.
1. How can we apply the Freirian 7-step model to the film Born Into Brothels? How did the film as a whole act as a human rights education tool? (Clips 17, 26, 40-48)
2. Zana enables the children to document their own lives, journeys and surroundings. Does this provide an opportunity for the children to become human rights educators? Explain your answer.
3. Map Zana’s journey with Freire’s steps for becoming a human rights educator.
From what we learned about Zana through this film, what were her 7 steps?
4. How did Zana redistribute her power in Calcutta? (If students are unclear, see definition in the Born Into Brothels Film Glossary- find it in the TIGed Activity Database) (Clips 40-48)
• Has there been a redistribution of power as an educator from Zana to anyone that she taught or interacted with?
• Zana did not provide the children with money, but instead she developed an opportunity for their own financial and artistic empowerment. How is Zana’s way of redistributing power important?
5. Throughout the film, did you feel that Zana’s enthusiasm changed at any point?
• Do you think that the transformation cycle ever ends within a person, or are we continuously learning new things as well as gaining new perspectives on old things? Explain your answer.
• At some point in the film, Zana said “Without help, they are doomed.” Do you believe that it is possible to regress in your transformation process? (Clips 35-39)
• This statement showed that Zana sometimes lost confidence in the impact she was having on the lives of these children. Discuss the roles of confidence and belief in transforming oneself into a human rights educator.
6. Compare and contrast the children’s’ eagerness to become “transformed/educated” to their mothers’ acquiescence to their own lives.
• How would you describe the mothers’ acceptance of their own fate? Was it circumstantial?
• From what you learned and heard from the mothers in the film, did you get the feeling that any of them wanted more for their children?
• Did the mothers recognize that both they and the children deserved an opportunity for change? How could this recognition bring about societal change?
• Kochi says at one point, “One has to accept life even if it is painful or sad”. Can you become a human rights educator if you “accept” life as being painful or sad?
7. Use Freire’s model to analyze where some of the children are in the 7 step process as well as what steps they could take to get further along in their transformation from survivors of human rights injustices to educators.
• What has been Avijit’s process? Puja’s? Kochi’s? Gour’s?
• Early in the film, Avijit said, “There is nothing called hope in my future.” Do you think he has since changed his mind? Why is this important? (Clips 27-30, 53, 55-56)
8. Using Avijit’s visit to Amsterdam as an example, reflect on the following term:
• “redistribution of power” (Clips 43, 49-50, 55-56)
9. Examine Avijit’s photos. Notice that most of his photos portray people looking down, animals facing down, railroad tracks with no end. Why do you think he focuses on these postures and images? (Clips 29-30, 49-50, 55-56)
• Is Avijit a human rights educator?
• If so, what do his photos teach us about human rights?
• How does analyzing other peoples’ photographs and being in Amsterdam affect Avijit’s self-confidence?
• What is the role of self-confidence in transformation?
10. By the end of his trip to Amsterdam, do you believe that Avijit had been empowered/ transformed? (Clips 55-56)
• What would/did it take for him to become empowered/transformed?
• How was avijit’s transformation process either encouraged or slowed down by others? (Clips 35-59)
• How could we as individuals engage with someone like Avijit? How could we support him? As citizens of the world, do we have a responsibility to Avijit and to the other children in the red light district?
11. “This is a good photo. We get a good sense of how these people live, and though there is sadness in it, and though it is hard to face, we must look at it because it is truth.” Reflect on the above quote from Avijit at the world Press Photo conference. What does this mean to you? What is the role of art in exposing human rights issues? Has Avijit become a human rights educator? Explain your answer.
You will need a copy of the documentary film Born Into Brothels, as well as the attached documents Handouts 1 (the procedure of this lesson refers to this) as well as Film Clips.