Emma Tyler
April 13, 2015 11:11 am

Okay, truth time: Yes, we know that school projects are important. Everyone knows that homework has its place, even if we don’t always love doing it. But, if we’re being honest, sometimes book reports on medieval literature and presentations on ancient history can feel a little disconnected from issues we’re facing right now. Wouldn’t it be awesome if your teacher assigned you homework on something your super passionate about? Well, that’s exactly what is happening at Charles City High School in Iowa. The school’s English II students are learning about media by taking down unrealistic body image.

Social studies teacher Rob Pittman and English teacher Trudy McKeag are teaching the class together and are using a method called project-based learning. The point of project-based learning is to find a topic that really interests the students and then let them explore it in different ways.

Students at CCHS have started a powerful Twitter campaign, created their own body positive advertisement, and even taken their cause to the state Legislature. Sophomore Nathaniel Reams had the idea of writing an open letter to state politicians about the dangers of Photoshopping. The students are trying to persuade lawmakers to combat the use of Photoshop in ads geared towards young readers. Their (totally sound) argument is that the photo editing makes models look impossibly skinny, and that is projecting unrealistic female body standards onto young people. The letter states that, “We can not stand around as children starve themselves chasing an unrealistic body image.”

One group of students has launched a “Real Women, Real Pride” Twitter account. They tweet empowering messages for young women and images geared towards acceptance and positive self-image. One student-created ad features female wrestling and proclaims that “fight like a girl is a compliment!” Other ads talk about differences making people beautiful and the importance of not blending in with everyone else. Lots organizations have gotten onboard and are following the accounts, proving that the message is really taking off.

But this class project isn’t just about educating the students enrolled in English II. The other objective of project-based learning is taking what you learned and sharing it with a relevant audience. The students are planning to visit two Charles City elementary schools to speak to fifth graders about the importance of their project. Sophomore Ashley Bray says that they will be talking to younger students about “how beauty comes in more than one size.”

We’re obsessed with this idea and are amazed at everything the students at CCHS have been able to accomplish. They are prime examples of being able to change the world while still in a high school classroom. Now we’re just wondering what we have to do to make this a mandatory class at high schools everywhere!

(Images via here)

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