Resistance 101: A Lesson on Social Justice Activists and Strategies

Teaching for Change created “Resistance 101” to help young people move from dismay to creative action that can win real change. This innovative lesson plan, launched in January 2017 to coincide with the inauguration, helps students recognize their power to challenge injustice. The lesson introduces them to people throughout history, including many young people, who fought for social justice and civic change using a range of strategies.

Students must learn to think critically about our nation’s history and learn the lessons of social movements to make this a more just society. The master narrative of social movements being won by individual heroes and large demonstrations won’t serve young people well.

Here’s feedback from teachers about the impact of “Resistance 101”:

My students learned that you do not have to be famous or powerful to do your part to help change injustices in your communities. Some students even started planning their own resistance efforts as a result. —Michelle Epperson, middle school social studies teacher, Coburg, Oregon

Students were amazed just to know that they didn’t have to “go with the flow” and that they can make their voices heard. One student said to me, “I’m going to start a petition right now!” —Ashley Zappe, EarthCare, Santa Fe, New Mexico

“Resistance 101” taught my students about many people they have never heard of and enhanced their understanding that there are many different ways to get involved with social justice. The lesson helped my students understand that they themselves can be activists and choose how they want to participate, rather than being passive recipients at the mercy of government and the forces of history.—Jim Cartwright, middle school language arts teacher, Northampton, Massachusetts