With the holidays approaching many of us are busy organizing family dinners, making or buying gifts for our loved ones and maybe even preparing for travel. As we anticipate this festive time of year, it can feel like the weeks are passing extra quickly with little time to slow down and savour the moment. Before you and your students break for the holidays, I wanted to leave you with a few ideas to spur reflection and personal growth in yourself and your students - ideas I hope will bring new energy into the new decade.
Lesson #1: Reflecting on Our Consumption Patterns: How to be a more conscious consumer
For the past few years, my school community school community at St. Joseph’s College School in downtown Toronto has recognized October the 4th as a day to honour the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls and Two-Spirited People. Since 2017, our school community has worked collectively to use art and activism to spread awareness around this day in hopes of creating change. This is an important issue to us; being a school for girls and young women, gendered violence resonates particularly with our student population.
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As your school commemorates Orange Shirt Day this year, we hope these 5 resources and teaching ideas will equip you to teach your students (and colleagues) about Canada's Residential Schools, and inspire and empower students to create a meaningful response.
“Those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it.” How many of us have heard this quote or a variation of it? Sayings like these are repeated so often nowadays that they have lost meaning. People will complain, “I don’t need you to lecture me, I already know all this,” “The past is the past, leave it behind where it belongs,” or a blatant dismissal from those who are so cemented in the now, that they refuse to see the truth right in front of them.
Topics: Student Voices, Choosing to Participate, Armenian Genocide, Students, Facing History and Ourselves, Holocaust Education, Rwanda, Student Work, Genocide and Crimes Against Humanities Course, Equity in Education, Facing Canada
In order to pursue a conversation about reconciliation in my classroom, and to ensure that my voice as a non-Indigenous teacher does not become louder than the survivors, I constantly strive to include Indigenous voices in my classroom. I want my voice to amplify Indigenous voices, not speak over them, or for them. I was fortunate enough to be given the opportunity through Facing History and Ourselves to have Theodore Fontaine share his experiences with the Canadian Residential School System in my Challenge and Change Grade 12 University class.
Why do troubled times so often bring out hatred in humanity? In both Canada and the United States over the past few years there has been much xenophobic rhetoric spread around in light of numerous global crises. During the 2015 Canadian and 2016 American elections we saw candidates in both countries “other” identifiable or vulnerable members of society using hateful language and often using them as scapegoats for social and economic problems, all while claiming to speak for the will of those they purport to be the “silent majority”. Furthermore, we saw large groups joining the “unsilent majority” through the use of social media to spread hate, join xenophobic movements and rallies, commit hate crimes and even acts of violence. Those who criticized this movement drew many parallels between the social climate and dialogue of today to that of Nazi Germany. As educators we felt it necessary to attempt to address this recurring phenomenon.
Throughout my years of teaching I began to realize something that Facing History and Ourselves so adeptly addresses- that we tend to see ourselves as “us” vs. “them.” I think that’s one of the hardest issues I’ve come across in teaching WWII, as so many students see what happened as a problem solely with Germany. “They” were racist. That could never happen “here!” It’s “their” problem. But what I really wanted to address in my classroom is that the roots of anti-Semitism and racism that led to the Holocaust were not just found in Germany!
Each year, like all educators, I think about new culminating activities that are meaningful and engaging. Inspired by Humans of New York on Facebook, I thought this concept would fit well into my Grade 11 Genocide and Crimes against Humanity course. In fact, the more posts I read, the more I realized how closely aligned they are to Facing History’s Scope and Sequence.
The following interview was originally published on Facing Today by Stacey Perlman, a Communications Writer at Facing History and Ourselves
Shireen recently gave advice to students who entered Facing History's 2016 Student Essay Contest, based on themes from To Kill A Mockingbird. This year's contest was open to all U.S. 7th-12th grade students. Finalists will be announced soon.