Lesson One: Shelter Seekers, Civic Engagement, and Shantytown
Homeless shelters often do not have enough beds for demand so they must have some system in place to determine who can stay. On some nights, especially during the winter months, it is not uncommon for shelters to have to turn clients away. This lesson introduces students to the many faces of homelessness via a list of hypothetical clients seeking shelter. Students need to develop criteria for admitting people into their shelter. In the process, they will begin to identify causes of oppression against the the homeless and recognize what steps they can take as citizens living in a democracy to affect change.
Shelter Seeks Cooperative Activty
Beginning with the End in Mind
In addition to identifying the causes of oppression against the poor and the homeless, this unit will afford you the opportunity to work towards a solution through the practice of engaged citizenship. Your summative assessment will take two forms:
- A self evaluation in which you identify action(s) you took in response to the issues of poverty and homeless and reflect on the level of civic engagement that you achieved (10 points)
- An exam in which you identify the causes of poverty and homelessness and evaluate the strengths and limitations of possible responses to these issues (40 points)
Levels of Civic Engagement
In their book titled The Service Learning Companion, Dawn Duncan and Joan Kopperud assert that "At different stages of your life and with regard to various issues, you may practice different levels of engaged citizenship. You may act as a personally responsible citizen, a participatory citizen, or a transforming citizen." Throughout this unit you will be provided with multiple opportunities to practice engaged citizenship at each of three levels. Refer to the chart (adapted from Westheimer and Kahn) below and begin to think about which action(s) you will take in response to the issues of poverty and homelessness.
Personally Responsible Citizen
Citizenship involves being a good, responsible, law-abiding member of the community.
Citizenship involves active participation and leadership in the community to help improve the quality of life for all.
Citizenship involves a responsibility to question and change the system when it is unjust or ineffective.