After the school day, I work with a group of teens to engage in dialogue and make a podcast called This Teenage Life, found on podcast apps such as Apple Podcasts and Spotify. We meet virtually twice per week to talk about issues the teens care about, such as when they began seeing their parents as human beings, love in high school, queerness, and the importance of the Black Lives Matter movement. We record these conversations, edit them, compose music and web art, and create podcast episodes with conversation and activity guides for teachers and students who might want to engage in similar conversations. Throughout the pandemic, This Teenage Life has been a social and creative lifeline for us.
In a recent interview, I had the opportunity to speak with Prince Taylor, alumnus of the Facing History School in New York City and team member at Politicking—a mobile app that offers comprehensive, nonpartisan information designed to empower millennial voters to cast their ballots. In this interview, we discuss his work at Politicking, their work to counter voter suppression and/or barriers to voting, and how Facing History shaped Taylor’s professional trajectory. Formed in collaboration with Facing History and Ourselves in 2005, The Facing History School is a public high school deeply informed by Facing History pedagogy within the New York City Public Schools system.
Since 2010, January 11th has marked National Human Trafficking Awareness Day—and is part of National Slavery and Human Trafficking Awareness Month which runs throughout January in the United States. In a recent interview, I spoke with Danny Papa—a New Jersey-based educator who inspired his middle school students to take leading roles in the movement to end human trafficking from the schoolhouse to the state house. In addition to serving as a K-12 Supervisor for Jefferson Township Public Schools, Papa serves as President of the Board of Trustees and Education Committee Chair for the NJ Coalition Against Human Trafficking.
Friday January 27—the day Auschwitz-Birkenau was liberated—is International Holocaust Remembrance Day. This day calls for people around the world to remember and honor the victims of the Holocaust—those who perished and those who survived to tell their story. Read how one survivor found healing through the Facing History students who listened to her after years of staying silent.
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.
For 40 years, Facing History and Ourselves has had the opportunity to challenge young people to reflect on the moral choices they face in their own lives. Inspired by what they have learned, many of those students look for ways in which they can make a positive difference in their classrooms, communities, and world. The Facing History journey ends with a reflection on "Choosing to Participate." But, what does it mean to choose to participate in a digital world in which participatory practices using digital tools are increasingly being used to take on the work of traditional institutions? We believe the Youth and Participatory Politics Action Frame can serve as a model to guide young people to reflect on the moral and ethical choices they face in their desire to make a difference.
Next week we will take the time to celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. His message of calling people from all walks of life to work together in support of the common good is just as pertinent now as it was then. As we prepare to talk to our students about what Dr. King stood for, here are some digital tools to bring his words and ideas to life in your classroom. This round up will enhance your students’ ability to study his role in the Civil Rights Movement while inspiring them to participate as upstanders in their own communities.
For many years, my past as a Jewish child hiding from the Nazis during the second world war was obliterated from my memory. Finally I realized that I needed to face a huge and painful void in my life. The opportunity came as a friend invited me to speak to a Facing History and Ourselves classroom.
The killing of Cecil the Lion on July 1st attracted both heavy news coverage and a flurry of responses on social media. An interesting thread emerged from these responses: questions about how people can become so outraged over the death of a lion on the other side of the world, when there are larger scale, or more local, stories of individuals and groups of people suffering unspeakable violence and injustice. The underlying theme that unites many of these confrontations is “Which story about tragedy or injustice is more worthy of our attention?”
Sir Nicholas Winton, a British humanitarian who saved more than 650 children through the Kindertransport during World War II, died on July 1, 2015, at the age of 106. Winton always humbly insisted he wasn't a hero; yet his inspiring story illuminates how courage, initiative, and compassion drive people to make a difference.
Topics: Classrooms, Teaching Strategies, Antisemitism, Choosing to Participate, Students, Teaching, Holocaust, Upstanders, Genocide/Collective Violence, Teachers, Holocaust and Human Behavior, Decision-making, Holocaust Education