Laura Tavares

Laura Tavares is Program Director for Organizational Learning and Thought Leadership at Facing History and Ourselves. She leads strategic partnerships, designs learning experiences for educators, and creates innovative classroom resources. She writes about history, current events and education for publications including the New York Times, Educational Leadership and Social Education. Laura joined the staff of Facing History in 2005 after several years teaching history and literature in independent schools. She is also a faculty member at the Harvard Graduate School of Education's Project Zero. Laura graduated from Wellesley College and received graduate degrees in literature and history from Oxford University, where she studied as a Rhodes Scholar.

Recent Posts

What Makes Democracy Work?: Navigating Differences

Posted by Laura Tavares on May 4, 2017

This week, in the fourth installment of our series, "What Makes Democracy Work?" we talk with interfaith leader Eboo Patel about what it looks like to build a healthy, religiously diverse democracy. We hope you’ll join the conversation using the hashtag #DemocracyandUs!

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Topics: Democracy

What Makes Democracy Work?: Citizens and Civic Participation

Posted by Laura Tavares on April 27, 2017

In the third installment of our series, "What Makes Democracy Work?" we consider the role of citizens with the help of political philosopher Danielle Allen. Make sure to join the conversation using the hashtag #DemocracyAndUs!

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Topics: Democracy

What Makes Democracy Work?: Individuals and a Nation's Laws

Posted by Laura Tavares on April 20, 2017

Facing History and Ourselves is exploring “What Makes Democracy Work?” in conversation with people whose insights from history, politics, literature, and civic life help us consider what it takes to sustain democracy in our societies today. In the first installment of our series, we spoke with Ben Railton, Professor of English Studies and American Studies at Fitchburg State University in Massachusetts who tells us about two enslaved people who successfully sued for their freedom in the early years of the American republic.

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Topics: Democracy

Facing History Announces New Campaign to Ask "What Makes Democracy Work?"

Posted by Laura Tavares on April 13, 2017

We have all seen, heard, and even felt a heightened sense of division in many communities around the world. Elections in 2016 and 2017—in England, the United States, France and Germany—have both revealed and exacerbated deep tensions in these societies. Never before has it been more important to truly understand the fundamentals of democracy. That’s why Facing History and Ourselves is launching a new campaign inviting educators, students, and community members to ask, "What makes democracy work?" 

Over the next eight weeks, we’ll be exploring this question with the help of historians, legal and political scholars, and voices from literature and history—and, we hope, with you. Look for weekly blog posts and teaching resources on our new page, Democracy and Us, and join us on social media with the hashtag #DemocracyAndUs to share your ideas, stories, and classroom experiences. This week, we consider why it's important to ask fundamental questions about democracy in our societies today.

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Topics: Democracy, Facing History Resources, current events, In the news, Lesson Plan

Asking Big Questions with the 2017 Student Essay Contest

Posted by Laura Tavares on February 6, 2017

I came to the teaching profession with big ambitions. Like many readers of this blog, I imagine, I’ve always loved learning, and I enjoy the effervescent and unpredictable company of kids. As a first-generation college graduate, I know firsthand how education can transform an individual’s life. But I also entered the classroom with the conviction that schools have a communal and civic purpose, too—that they are the root and heart of democratic societies.

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Topics: Contests, Student Voices, Writing, Holocaust

3 Ways to Address the Latest News on Immigration With Your Students

Posted by Laura Tavares on January 30, 2017

This week, President Donald Trump announced several measures to limit immigration to the United States. His administration shared plans to build a wall on the Mexican border and to more aggressively deport undocumented immigrants. He also announced an order barring Syrians and other refugees from entering the country and suspended immigration from seven primarily Muslim nations.

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Topics: Immigration, Universe of Obligation, Refugees, In the news

Standing Up to Hate

Posted by Laura Tavares on December 1, 2016

 

In the days following the presidential election on November 8, incidents of slurs, threats, and harassment—racist, anti-immigrant, antisemitic, homophobic, and sexist in nature—have spiked across the United States. The Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate crimes, received more than 700 such reports as of November 18.  

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Topics: Choosing to Participate, voting, difficult conversations

Understanding Mockingbird and Watchman in Today’s World

Posted by Laura Tavares on January 7, 2016

In January and February, Barnes & Noble Booksellers is partnering with Facing History and Ourselves to promote our resources for teaching To Kill A Mockingbird to educators across the United States. Facing History’s Senior Program Associate, Laura Tavares, reflects on why Mockingbird is more relevant today than at any time since it’s original publication at the dawn of the American Civil Rights Era.

Six months ago, Harper Lee’s Go Set a Watchman revealed a different side of the beloved Atticus Finch. Lovers of Lee’s classic, To Kill a Mockingbird, were left confused as he is rendered a segregationist who clashes with his daughter over his racist beliefs. My colleagues and I saw this as an opportunity to explore Mockingbird even further. Since the book’s release, we immersed ourselves in this text to develop resources that can inform the way you read and teach Mockingbird in your classroom. 

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Topics: To Kill a Mockingbird, Books, English Language Arts, Harper Lee, Go Set a Watchman, Reading, Racism, Reading List

Why A More Complicated Atticus Could Be A New Learning Opportunity

Posted by Laura Tavares on July 15, 2015

Like so many literature lovers, I’d been eagerly anticipating yesterday's release of Go Set a Watchman. For nearly two years, I’ve been thinking about the world of Maycomb as I worked with colleagues to create Facing History and Ourselves’ resource Teaching Mockingbird. I couldn’t wait to read Watchman, which has been described as a first draft or “parent” of To Kill a Mockingbird, to learn more about how Harper Lee first imagined beloved characters like Atticus, Scout, and Jem, and to see how she depicts Maycomb in the 1950s.

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Topics: To Kill a Mockingbird, Books, English Language Arts, Reconstruction, News, History, Harper Lee, Go Set a Watchman

At Facing History and Ourselves, we value conversation—in classrooms, in our professional development for educators, and online. When you comment on Facing Today, you're engaging with our worldwide community of learners, so please take care that your contributions are constructive, civil, and advance the conversation.
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Welcome to Facing Today, a Facing History blog. Facing History and Ourselves combats racism and antisemitism by using history to teach tolerance in classrooms around the globe.

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