In Spring 2015, two fourth grade students (boy and girl twins) in Somerset MA, decided it was time to do something about their school’s lunch policy that required boys and girls to sit at separate tables on opposite sides of the school cafeteria. Henry and Henriet James wrote an article in their school’s newspaper that questioned the policy and expressed their thoughts and feelings about separating boys and girls. To write it, they spent several weeks conducting research and interviewing people. In August 2015, North Elementary’s principal announced that the policy was reversed and now boys and girls will be able to sit together at lunch. This news story has the potential to raise two important issues for elementary students: (1) the impact of separating boys and girls and (2) the power children have to make a difference in their school, community and society.
This lesson provides an opportunity for students to learn more about Henry and Henriet’s actions that led to the change in policy, explore their own opinions about gender norms/separating children by gender and write a persuasive essay about a school policy/rule they want to change.