Believe it or not, there are striking similarities between Timber Creek AP European history students and those they study. Teacher Ben Metcalf wants them to realize and take advantage of that so he created the 95 Theses Project.
The project was assigned to AP European history classes. They’re currently covering the European Reformation period, which Metcalf describes as “a time when innovative minds or godless heretics, depending upon which side you are on challenged the Catholic Church and it’s day-to-day operations.”
During this time, a Catholic monk named Martin Luther questioned the church over their practices, which Luther could not find justification for in the Bible. In search of answers, he wrote “The 95 Theses Against the Sale of Indulgences” and nailed it to the door of a church in Wittenberg on October 31, 1517. When people saw this rebellious act, they rioted, spread the word via the printing press, and “voila… Reformation was born.”
In class, Metcalf got students conversing about issues in their own community at Timber Creek. Their assignment was to identify a problem, explain why it’s a problem, and offer cost effective solutions, just as Martin Luther did almost 500 years ago.
Students took the assignment to heart. Many students targeted issues such as C hall traffic, lack of lunch options, and drug issues at the school. Others criticized Timber Creek’s reactions to racism and LGTB issues, emphasis on football and sports, as well as understaffing or lack of teacher qualifications. Students even asked for a study hall and a wider variety of advanced placement classes.
Under Principal Tunnel, students in the past two years suggested longer passing periods and the painting of senior parking spots; these changes were enacted the year after Metcalf’s students suggestions.
This year, Metcalf collected the assignments on Friday, Sept. 16 and plans to give them to Principal Bartlett. Whether Bartlett will take students suggestions into consideration or not, AP Euro doesn’t know. Metcalf is just thankful for the learning experience.
“Regardless, it got kids thinking about the process,” he stated. “Real change often comes from not-yet-infamous beings.”