Violence Interruption

Though I’m an avid John Stewart viewer, I had been taking a break from Colbert recently as his manic interview style was starting to annoy me.

But this weekend, with no John Stewart’s left in the Tivo cue, I watched a string of Colbert shows from last week.  What a stroke of luck.

Last Wednesday’s show featuring Ameena Matthews was really inspirational.  You can watch it here: ameena-matthews

In brief, she runs a non-profit in inner-city Chicago where she literally interrupts violence by walking in the middle of it, in the hope of saving lives.  She spoke of violence as a disease.  She, like many urban children, was taught by her family that when hit she should hit back.  She explains that this turns into an escalation of violence because when you hit back, the person you hit has a huge extended family ready to support and protect that person, as does the other original member of the conflict.  So violence spreads from 2 original people to hundreds as quickly as a disease can spread between all those who have come in contact with someone who has it.

The documentary about her work, The Interrupters, was co-written by Alex Kotlowitz, author of There are no Children Here, one of the most influential books on urban education I have ever read.

It’s showing this week in Oakland, but is moving all over the country.  You can find out more about showings here.

It’s also airing on PBS’ Frontline on Tuesday, February 14.

I plan to watch it then and purchase the film to show to our 8th graders.  After watching it, I”ll have a better idea of how to facilitate and structure the conversations among students about the issues raised. If you’d like to talk more about how to debrief the movie with students, I’d be happy to discuss it with you.


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