Delview Secondary teacher Mark Turpin (left) with students Brett Gerak and Emma Andrews, two of the authors answering heady questions in The March of Humanity. (Saša Lakić photo)

Students at North Delta’s Delview Secondary ponder humanity in new book

The Grade 10s sought to answer existential questions on being Canadian and tech’s impact on society

In The March of Humanity, Delview Secondary students tackle questions that have beguiled the thinking ape for millennia.

As part of their Innovation 10 course — an amalgamation of social studies, English and science — the Grade 10 students published a book discussing where humanity comes from, where it is right now and where it is potentially headed. They tried to find insight on heady questions regarding existentialism, religion and technology’s impacts on society, as well as morality and Canadian identity.

In his essay, student Darius Hermkens couldn’t definitively answer how it is people arrive at the values they hold and live by. Still, he found that family, religion, friends and culture all have an impact on what values people develop over the course of their lives.

“The most consistent answer I found was religion and family, but at the same time it’s kind of contradicting because you’re going against one thing [and] to another,” Hermkens told the Reporter. “Altogether, it’s who you’re close with and what you believe in that will create how you think and what’s important to you.”

The March of Humanity can be purchased on Amazon for $4.75. (North Delta Reporter staff photo)

Emma Andrews said she learned a lot about people by tackling the question, “What makes us human?” She came back with a number of answers that ranged from the basic physical differences between humans and other animals, to the humaneness people exhibit (or don’t) regarding the morality of scientific testing on animals, which has led to humans living longer lives largely free of disease and illness.

But, she said, there can also be a religious factor to the issue.

“[Religion] kind of sends you on a path, and in a religion there can be restrictions,” Andrews said. “Those restrictions give you a path that you need to follow.”

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Brett Gerak wrote about far people should take gene editing. The subject centres around relatively new technology that uses clustered regularly inter-spaced palindromic repeats (CRISPR) to essentially “edit” the makeup of DNA strands by removing and replacing nucleotides, making CRISPR an unprecedented tool in medical research.

“This technology could possibly do things like increase our muscle density, give us thicker hair, immunity to genetic diseases … but [it] has yet to be used effectively on a grown adult,” Gerak wrote in his piece.

To the Reporter, he noted, “there is debate if only the wealthy were able to use it because it would obviously cost money. And if people would use it to make what a lot of people say are ‘designer babies,’ I think that would be too far.”

Mark Turpin, an English teacher who oversaw much of the editing process of the book, said the process of publishing something with the students taught him to trust the kids in seeking out information and educating themselves.

“A lot of what we did is flip the classroom,” Turpin explained. “Instead of providing them the content and telling them, ‘we’re going to learn this, this and this,’ you flip that and say, ‘what do you want to learn?’ and be the facilitator and support that learning.”

Science and IT teacher Jonathan Kung said publishing the book was also a lesson for the students in undertaking more extensive research, which included seeking out and interviewing experts and academically citing their sources for the answers on their respective topics.

“Nobody’s done it before really and we wanted to find something that would be authentic, that would kind of allow them to combine all the different curricula,” Kung said. “It’s really quite interesting from the perspective of these teenagers who are still trying to form their opinions on a lot of these things. None of them were experts at this, a lot of them did a lot of research in order to figure out where they stood on these issues.”

Kung said the course will be back for the next batch of Grade 10s and, depending on what questions the students come up with, the concept may change too.

The March of Humanity can be purchased on Amazon.

SEE ALSO: North Delta high school to host outdoor program for at-risk youth



sasha.lakic@northdeltareporter.com

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