Field Notes 10/22/17

After the shooting it became clear his students [at Oregon Episcopal School in Portland] didn’t just want to talk about the pros and cons of gun control — they wanted to do something to make their local community safer. So they wrote legislation and introduced it to the Portland City Council. When it failed, and various adults patted them on the back before sending them on their way, the students were indignant.

Instead of giving up the idea, they partnered with other interest groups to sponsor and testify in support of a bill in the state legislature that would require background checks on private gun sales and close a loophole in Oregon state law. The bill passed; the governor signed it into law, and those students learned an indelible lesson about how government works. Their work had an impact; and along the way they came to understand it takes persistence to see results. They practiced less tangible skills like effective communication and collaboration with outside groups. And, perhaps most importantly, they also began to empathize with responsible gun owners through conversations with citizens and lobbyists testifying on the other side of the issue.

Schwatz, Katrina. KQED Mind/Shift. How Making an Impact on the World Motivates Students.