School navigation

Oregon Writing Project

Rethinking Schools: Climate Change, Poetry, and Forgiveness

April 05, 2013

  • News Image

Oregon Writing Project coach Brady Bennon, and director Linda Christensen have articles in the latest issue of Rethinking Schools.

In “Paradise Lost” Brady writes about how he uses story to introduce his students to climate change. As an OWP coach, he also connects his students’ lives to the story through poetry.

“This country has been the basis of my being. And when it’s no longer there, you know, it’s unthinkable.” Ueantabo Mackenzie’s haunting words in the PBS NOW documentary Paradise Lost shook me. I knew I wanted to teach a unit on global warming, especially after participating in the Portland-area Rethinking Schools curriculum group, Earth in Crisis. I didn’t have to be convinced that students need to learn about global warming. It’s one of the defining issues of our time. But Mackenzie’s message startled me: Global warming is here, right now, and it is uprooting people and destroying nations today, starting with Mackenzie’s home on the island nation of Kiribati (pronounced KIRR-i-bas).

In “Hey, Mom, I Forgive You” Linda discusses the forgiveness poem she uses to crack open her students’ lives as they read literature and history. As Christensen writes, “The assignment is not a command to forgive, but an invitation to understand…an invitation to name our hurt and make sense of it.”

Check out the spring issue here

Share this story on

Oregon Writing Project

Contact Us