Significant trauma, including witnessing or experiencing violence, is a fact of life for many students. Left unaddressed, that trauma can be an obstacle to learning. Teachers, who are typically asked to focus on cognitive rather than affective learning, sometimes feel ill-equipped to help students process their experiences. This lesson provides a curriculum-connected place to start.
In the lesson students gain an intuitive sense of the difference between affective and cognitive brain functions. They are asked to use both art and expository writing to respond to clips from the documentary film QUEST. The family shown in the film uses community connections, politics and art to cope when their youngest daughter, PJ, is shot—caught in crossfire on the streets of North Philadelphia. As students compare and contrast responses, they understand the role that affective pursuits, like artistic expression, can play in the healing process.