Remembrance Day is a poignant moment to reflect upon the sacrifice that men and women made before us. As we get farther away from the world wars of the past, how do we as educators ensure that this day is meaningful for our students?
As an educator I often wonder what students remember once they have left my classroom. It is my hope that when they leave they take with them critical thinking skills, the ability to engage in difficult conversations, and a deeper understanding of how we are all connected - in the past, present, and future. Through all of my various attempts to learn from my students what they are getting out of their Facing History and Ourselves class, I have found that the best way to find out what students are learning is to ask them.
Each year, at the end of our grade 11 elective Facing History and Ourselves course, Genocide and Crimes Against Humanity, we take the time to reflect on our learning and ourselves. This year a group of students from my classroom chose to participate in a reflective interview process in lieu of their final journal entry assignment, and agreed to share their reflections.
Below, as inspired by the popular blog Humans of New York and the Facing History project, Humans of the Woodlands, you'll have the chance to glimpse into the classroom learning and life of a few of my Facing History and Ourselves students.
Topics: Choosing to Participate, Identity, History, Holocaust Education, Memorial, We and They, Culturally Responsive and Relevant Pedagogy, legacy, Genocide and Crimes Against Humanities Course, Holocaust and Human Behaviour, Inside a Genocide Classroom, Social Justice, Personal history, reflection
Early in my teaching career I came across Voltaire's aphorism, which states, “perfect is the enemy of good.” As my fifth year as a middle school teacher, and my first year as a Facing History teacher comes to a close, I developed a new appreciation for this message.
Ten months ago, shortly after participating in the Facing History and Ourselves: Holocaust and Human Behaviour seminar, I wrote a blog post detailing my plans for my first year as a Facing History and Ourselves teacher. I strongly believe in the power that the Facing History and Ourselves curriculum offers students, and I wanted to make sure I lived up to what it meant to be a Facing History teacher. During the year, I found myself chasing the “perfect” lessons, which I hoped would chain together to create the “perfect” unit, and the “perfect” year. Here is what I have learned since then.
One of the questions that we often struggle with as teachers, and even more so as teachers that cover issues of genocide, is How do we even begin to understand something that is so far removed from most of our personal experiences?
It always amazes me how good literature has the capacity to expand our understanding of our world, challenge our memory of history, and grow our thinking about human nature and human experience.
As someone who works with educators, I love to see how bringing great stories grounded in lived experiences into classrooms can begin conversations, spur questions, and help students make connections between themselves, the lives of others in the stories they read, and the world around them.
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.
Last week I had the honour of participating in the Facing History and Ourselves: Holocaust and Human Behaviour summer seminar at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education.
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?
An interactive, participatory drama and movement workshop using the text “The Bear That Wasn’t” to explore our struggles with identity, how our identities are shaped by others and societal expectations and our battle to find our true selves.