Episode 44: This teacher simulated a dictatorship in her class. The students pushed back.
When she teaches the book “1984” she turns her class into a totalitarian regime.
Just before Dina Leygerman teaches George Orwell’s, “1984” to her seniors, she runs a simulation. Much like the book, she transforms her class into a totalitarian regime.
“They can’t talk to each other, they can’t even ask for a pencil, without asking my permission first,” said Leygerman. “They can’t get up; they can’t move around the classroom. They can’t even go blow their nose.”
Leygerman rewards students that to turn in their classmates for breaking her new rules.
“I kept marks on the board saying ‘Josh’ did x,y,z, so he gets a point for telling on ‘Kristen,'” Leygerman said when the students would see the scoreboard, most of them would fall in line.
“They started to get really upset and they started writing notes to the administration.”
Leygerman backs the drastic changes to her classroom with research information that she’s falsified, and her administration is in on the whole thing.
The Kids’ Reaction
The first few times Leygerman ran her simulation the students were concerned and confused, but they also cared about their grade, so they complied.
However, in her most recent simulation, the kids rebelled.
“They said, where did you get this research? And how do you know it works?” Leygerman said one of her students asked for links to her research.
But Leygerman held firm, and other teachers played along.
“They started to get really upset, and they started writing notes to the administration. The President of the Student Government wrote this long email about how they refuse to live in a totalitarian environment,” said Leygerman.
Why She Loves Their Response
The kids’ rebellious response gives Leygerman hope about the future.
“The teenagers today, they’re more aware I guess, and they’re more involved, and that was really great for me,” Leygerman said she also learned that she’ll have to step up her game next year.
To hear our full interview with Leygerman, listen to Episode 44 of the Class Dismissed Podcast.