Recently, I drove from Facing History’s office in the East Bay to Silicon Valley to attend a youth civic hackathon. As I passed by the giant “like” sign at Facebook’s sprawling campus on One Hacker Way in Menlo Park, I found myself thinking about hacking, technology, social media status updates, and also about empathy.
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
It could have been me. In fact, it could have been any of us. By us, I mean the people all over this world who enter churches, synagogues, mosques, and other sacred places of worship to study, to pray, to listen, to sing, and sometimes even to mourn.
As a teacher, I am constantly thinking of new ways to engage my students.
Before I started teaching my students a unit about the Holocaust this year, I thought a lot about how I could get them to think, process, and reflect meaningfully and critically about this history, and also inspire them to act in a manner that influences the world for good.
Acts of moral courage are not common, they are exceptional. People actively create opportunities to rescue or choose to help others. It can happen in a blink of an eye or after long deliberation, but these moments are not accidental.
About two years ago, when I began reading draft chapters of Facing History’s new publication on the Reconstruction era in American history, I got to thinking back to how I learned about this period in high school in 1959 and in college, and also how I taught it to my students while teaching high school several years later in 1965.
In both my high school class as student, and later my high school classes as a teacher, I used the same textbook, David Saville Muzzey’s 1937 A History of Our Country, which for decades was the most widely used high school text on American history. Curious about what I learned and how I taught it, I dug out my well-worn copy and looked at how Muzzey wrote about Reconstruction.
Facing History is pleased to introduce the 2015 winners of our annual Margot Stern Strom Innovation Grants! The winning projects all focus on collaborative learning, and were selected for their potential to inspire students to make a difference.
Over the last few weeks, South Africa has been rocked by xenophobic violence.
According to The New York Times, approximately five million immigrants have settled in South Africa since the end of the apartheid in 1994. Many are refugees, or are pursuing economic opportunities in the country, which has become a relatively stable multiracial democracy. Many native South Africans are greeting these newcomers with prejudice, hatred, and violence—destroying local businesses and in some cases committing murder. Today, South Africa’s immigrant population lives in fear.
Unfortunately, the trend is not new. In 2007, a year before xenophobic attacks would break out nationwide, violence erupted in the small township of Zwelethemba, about two hours from Cape Town.
A Facing History teacher at the local high school recognized that his community was in crisis.
Adults often ask students to be upstanders, to speak out against bullying and other social problems, and to go against the tide. But we should also help students change the tide.This means changing social norms so that young people feel respected not when they degrade other students, but when they include others.