Teacher Promotes Activism Among Her Students

by Josh Averbach ‘18

From MCPS walkouts to the Women’s March and the endless stream of socially-conscious social media posts, young people, including high school students, have become active in the political process and become grassroots activists. AP environmental science teacher Laura Dinerman has embraced this trend, and encourages her students to speak up.

“I don’t tell kids what to think. I tell them to take what they think, and use it to be an active participant in the political process,” said Dinerman.

Dinerman’s environmental curriculum goes hand-in-hand with environmental activism. She does not merely teach her students facts about the environment; rather, she encourages her students to do their part in helping the environment. For example, Dinerman takes her classes on field trips to the Chesapeake Bay, where they collect samples of the water, take measurements to determine the water’s quality and the health of the ecosystem, and publish their findings.

“The idea, when you come out of [AP] environmental, is that you will accomplish things to make the environment a better place,” said Dinerman.

While the environment is the focus of her class and an issue that Dinerman feels particularly passionate about, her philosophy on activism can apply to any issue. Dinerman consistently encourages her students to make their voices heard on any topic they feel strongly about.

When discussing contentious issues, especially with those who hold opposing viewpoints, Dinerman does not encourage her students to focus on converting the other side to their way of thinking. Instead, she emphasizes trying to find a common ground. She also believes that activists should debate using hard statistics and irrefutable facts, instead of forming ideological arguments with vague generalizations.