As the nation reacts to the wave of antisemitic attacks that have occurred in cities including New York City, Los Angeles, and Chicago in recent weeks, educators are faced with unique challenges. By creating safe spaces for reflection and questioning, by offering context and lessons from history, and by sharing examples of compassion and resistance, teachers can play a vital role in responding to acts of hate.
As people living on American soil await a decision from the U.S. Supreme Court on the fate of DACA—the immigration policy that has permitted some 700,000 undocumented youth to remain in the U.S. after being brought here as children—one figurehead of the undocumented movement is urging young immigrants to be fearless in building their lives here, with or without the right papers. Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Jose Antonio Vargas presents a challenging call to action, yet he speaks from experience. Since putting his life and livelihood on the line by announcing his undocumented status in a pathbreaking 2011 essay, Vargas has inspired undocumented immigrants around the U.S. to find their voices, and helped U.S. citizens broaden their thinking about immigration and belonging.
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. In a recent interview, I spoke with Yenny Bautista—alumna and Fulbright English Teaching Fellow to Brazil—about how the Facing History experience stirred her call to teach.
Harvey Milk High School was the first high school in the world designed for LGBTQIA+ students when it opened in New York City in 1985. In a recent interview, I spoke with two Harvey Milk staff—clinical social worker Tanya Koifman and social studies teacher Natalie Velazquez—about some of the unique challenges facing LGBTQIA+ students today, the depth of resilience their students exhibit, and strategies educators can use to engage LGBTQIA+ students everywhere.
Widely considered the event that inaugurated the modern gay rights movement, this Friday, June 28th marks the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots.
Stonewall was the culmination of a number of efforts that had been bubbling just beyond public perception for decades and finally burst into view when a group of LGBTQ people facing ongoing police brutality and economic exploitation fought back at New York City’s Stonewall Inn.
What does Facing History look like in action? Look into Calee Prindle’s classroom and you’ll see it come to life. Calee is an English Language Arts teacher and an advisor at the Facing History School (FHS) in New York City. FHS is a founding member of The Facing History Innovative Schools Network – a connected group of more than 80 schools that embrace Facing History's core themes as essential to their mission.
What do Facing History and Ourselves classrooms really accomplish? Where do our students go after graduation? And how does our approach actually change their lives? We find one answer in the story of a Dominican teenager who immigrated to New York City less than a decade ago. Luis Santos—like so many youth today—fled violent rioting in the streets of the Dominican Republic after it took the life of one of his best friends. Santos found himself attending the Facing History School in Hell's Kitchen, NYC.
“In conversation, we were all able to see and understand circumstances beyond our own..."
In 2011, when I was 13 years old, my family and I traveled to South Africa. My dad was born and raised in Cape Town. In 1976, the Soweto Uprising and corrupt Apartheid government prompted his parents to move their family to Toronto, Canada. During our trip, I spent time in Khayelitsha, Langa, and Gugulethu, black townships near Cape Town, with children close to my age who shared many of my interests. I was struck by their harsh living conditions and bleak educational futures relative to my own. The connections I made inspired my desire to make a positive difference. But, at the time, I was in middle school and I had no clue how.
In the 21st century, it is almost as likely that a student will play a video game as watch television or read a book.
Indeed, the Pew Research Center estimates that 97% of teenagers (as well as 60% of adults, according to the Entertainment Software Association) regularly play video games. These numbers indicate that modern video games have huge potential for helping young people better understand their world, and can increase their empathy for those around them.
I remember sitting on my parents' bed one evening after dinner when I was seven years old, squeezing into a spot next to my older brother, Marc. In the coziness and safety of their room—walls clad in purple fabric and a white shag rug underfoot—my parents began to share their stories.