ESL etc.

Global Issues and Activism in English Language Teaching

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Occupy Wall Street

October 4th, 2011 · 2 Comments

Occupy Wall Street is a protest in New York City that has been going on for 18 days. On Saturday, 700 protesters were arrested, following the arrest of 80 protesters the week before. The occupation involves members of a number of different groups, and the main thrust is a frustration with the fact that American political and economic systems favor corporations. It is an expression of dissent against decades of policies favoring the rich. The Occupy Wall Street website itself doesn’t have much information, but there is a live video feed that might be useful.

If I were teaching a class on business, I would absolutely include information on this protest. In my experience, it may come as a surprise to some students that the majority of Americans are not rich. This would fit in well with activities on the distribution of wealth. One of the groups involved in the protest, We Are the 99%, offers a powerful collection of photos and narratives by the poorer 99% of Americans. This would work well with graphs illustrating the fact that, while the wealthiest 1% have seen their real income more than double in the past few decades, the rest of America has seen little to no growth. And, of course, this problem is not uniquely American. Students could be invited to present information on the distribution of wealth in their countries, or in other countries that they research. It could also be fruitful to combine these with activities looking at the distribution of wealth between countries. Whatever the angle, articles on this protest would be a great addition to a unit on business, government or wealth and poverty.

Tags: blog · consumerism · finance · financial crisis (2008) · global issues activities · happiness · infographics · listening · pictures · poverty & wealth · reading · slideshow · video

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2 responses so far ↓

  • 1 chris // Oct 17, 2011 at 1:39 am

    Hi Dave.
    As you know, probably, the movement is spreading.
    In the City of London (England) the movement has settled onto church owned land, thus making it more difficult for people to be arrested.
    But what i am trying to find out, and can’t seem to, is what happens after you’ve been arrested.

  • 2 Dave // Oct 17, 2011 at 2:26 pm

    Interesting! I wonder if being on church-owned land offers similar sanctuary in the US…

    We haven’t had much violence here in the US at the protests, so I don’t think that those arrested have been held for any length of time. I don’t actually know, though.

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