Ashleigh Rudd's Comments About Her Use of the Circle of Oppression In An Email to Pat Russo: "I wanted to let you know that I continue to use your circle this year in fifth grade. I am currently using it as I teach about slavery and the American Civil War. I first presented it to my students when we discussed civil rights issues.
In fifth grade, especially at such a rural school (Pulaski), students have many preconceived notions and misunderstandings about people that are different from themselves. We have spent time working through what they may hear at home, on television, and what they have been socialized to think. Your circle is a great tool that I continue to use with my students.
One of the first times we looked at the circle in class occurred after I overheard a student telling a "blonde" joke to another classmate. We discussed what kind of a message a joke like that sends about girls and women. We also discussed that the people that continue to tell those types of jokes only continue the cycle of oppression.
~From and email dated 02/05/04
Another example of how Ashleigh Rudd used the Circle of Oppression: "The circle of oppression is a useful tool in so many situations that I have had at school.
I read the story of Ruby Bridges to my students yesterday. They worked in groups to complete charts about events in her life. One column was labeled "injustice" and the other was "perseverance." We discussed the story and they wrote about the injustices during this time period. In the story, there was a scene where Ruby was being harassed by a mob of angry white people. We talked about what emotion was at the root of those peoples' actions. We discussed the circle of oppression and the students came to the conclusion that the people felt hate. But the feelings of hate was also a disguise to hide their feelings of fear. The fear of losing power.
I had a post conference with my principal this afternoon. When discussing the lesson with her I explained your circle of oppression to her.
Another example of when I used the circle was when we were discussing United States presidents. We identified presidents as possessing the inner circle qualities (maybe with the exception of coming from wealth in some cases). We also had a discussion about George W. Bush possessing all the qualities of the inner circle. We talked about the power they had to change this. I explained to them that they will be able to vote and decide who would best represent them. They can choose to not give power to the "George W. Bush's of the world."
I believed in the circle of oppression my entire life, but now I have an organized way to teach and discuss the ideas with others."
~From an email dated 02-12-04; Ashleigh's email: firstname.lastname@example.org