Students share their findings at two Elementary School Gatherings.
“Kids are naturally curious and very observant—they pick up on what is being discussed at home, reported in the media, etc.,” observed fourth-grade teacher Matt Lintner in reference to the two fourth-grade “deep dive” projects this year. “We’ve discovered when we pursue student questions, fascinating, unpredictable things happen.” Presented in two parts—on Feb. 7 and 10—to the entire Elementary School, faculty, staff and parents, the winter “deep dive” project on addiction proved to be just as captivating and extraordinary as the fourth-grade teachers had anticipated.
A pivotal component of the fourth-grade curriculum, the “deep dive” project begins with the students meeting in Councils to discuss real-world topics of interest to them. From those topics, they select one to explore intensely for the next three weeks, developing questions, conducting research and interviewing experts. Past topics have ranged from stereotypes about Islam and the criminal justice system to homelessness in Los Angeles.
This year, inspired by stories about alcohol, vaping and technology abuse, the fourth graders asked, “Why do people become addicted to things that are harmful, and what can we do about it?” In pursuit of an answer, they interviewed neurologists, psychologists, social workers, video game designers, people in recovery, directors of treatment programs and family members affected by addiction. They also read statistics, watched and listened to documentaries and news clips and analyzed advertising.
For the first presentation, the students in 4W discussed a scientific explanation of addiction, types of addictive substances and behaviors, how common addiction is and reasons why people become addicted. With this troubling information in mind, they also shared ways to process one’s feelings instead of turning to addictive substances and behaviors.
“I used to think people who had addictions were bad and violent, but now I realize they are not bad. They are just people in a lot pain,” reflected Lea Heraeus.
The following Monday, the students in 4E examined the factors that lead to addiction, different forms of treatment and why people find it so difficult to quit. They even considered who, if anyone, should be held responsible for addiction.
“Now I know there’s always a story behind an addiction,” stated Seraphina Taite. Abigail Acosta then added, “And people with an addiction deserve a chance.”
Learn more about addiction from the fourth graders themselves by watching this video
. The next fourth-grade “deep dive” project will culminate in June.