Stories matter: They shape the way we see ourselves, the way we see others, and the way we understand history. By sharing and listening to stories, we recognize ourselves as part of the human story, as individuals who can change the narrative by making positive choices and shaping our world.
Memorializing the Armenian genocide.
I have always been fascinated by the creation of – and purpose behind – memorials and monuments. I can appreciate the level of thought and detail that goes into each and every design.
When teachers flip the calendar to August, the countdown is on. Inevitably, we begin planning for the next school year. One of the beautiful things about being a teacher is the opportunity for new beginnings.
I am always reflecting on how I can improve a lesson, unit or activity and the Facing History website is a go-to resource for me. Here are my five recommended resources from the Facing History website to inspire your classroom practice this year:
We are very happy to welcome the voice of student Anmol Sandhu to the Facing History and Ourselves Ontario Network blog this week as she reflects on the power of choosing to participate.
As a high school teacher, one of the most common things that I hear when walking through the hallways is the refrain of students dishing out advice to their friends: “If that happened to me, I would’ve done/said _______.”
When I hear it, my first reaction is to wonder if there is truth in the advice. And if there is, how much?
I wear a pendant around my neck. It’s about the size of a quarter and it has the silhouette of a solitary candle carved out of the middle. Written around the candle are the words Remember and Never Again. It’s a simple, yet powerful design. A student, noticing this, asked me why I often wore it and what it meant. Instead of answering the question directly, I turned it back to her. I told her that a friend of mine had bought it for me at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington D.C. and I asked her why we study the Holocaust. Why do we need to remember?
“Sir, it keeps happening again and again. We don’t learn. I don’t think we’re going to get better. There doesn’t seem to be much hope.”
Three years ago a grade 12 student said this to me in my West and the World class. Every so often it echoes in my head. She was doing a research paper on Rwanda and the United Nations, and had done a significant amount of reading on the topic and she was passionately upset about how the world had allowed the Rwandan Genocide to happen.
With any new course, teachers will often ask themselves, “Where do I begin?” This is an even more daunting question when dealing with such a difficult subject as genocide. In my preparation for teaching the Grade 11 Genocide and Crimes Against Humanities course at Louise Arbour Secondary School, I asked myself, “How can the students and I relate to situations that are so extreme and beyond most of our experiences?”
I started journaling when I was a boy canoeing the waters surrounding my family cottage in Muskoka. My journals were filled with maps of all the places I “discov
ered” during my summers up north. As the years went by and I entered high school, the journal’s pages of maps became dotted with anecdotes from my life beyond that lake. It was around this time that I found a copy of The Journey is the Destination: The Journals of Dan Eldon at a local bookstore.
After recently watching the movie Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade with my sons, a thought hit me. In the movie, Indiana accidently comes across the gigantic map room where Nazis are secretly planning their conquests. Leaders and rulers – and everyday citizens – throughout history (like Winston Churchill, for example) have had map rooms. My students needed one too.