Why teachers should put the “ART of History” in student hands

Posted by Robert Flosman on January 18, 2013

dutchpropegandaHenriPieck HenriPieck2

“No offence Mr. Flosman, but I learned more in our time with this museum than I did in your class.”

None taken; on the contrary. The museum my student referred to was the one embraced by our community and hosted by our Facing History grade 11 Genocide and Crimes Against Humanities class. For 3 weeks in October, our classroom was the site of the Dutch Resistance and Propaganda museum from New York City!
It was the first time this fine museum came to Canada let alone a school. Thanks to Hilary Eddy Stipelman of the Anne Frank Centre in NYC and a great supporter of Facing History, Madeleine Levy. Ms Levy secured the Trillium Grant that allowed this museum to be possible. Ms Stipelman flew up from New York to answer questions and to introduce our students to the museum. Our students and community were awed by actual art and propaganda from the Second World War.
The value of this opportunity rested on our students. They were tasked with learning the stories behind these works of art so that they could serve as docents to middle school and community groups. Each student had “ownership” of one piece of art or propaganda. They researched their piece and became experts to over 1000 guests who viewed the exhibit. To see the art of Henri Pieck up close, capturing the brutality of Buchenwald left our guests speechless. Witnessing both the Dutch Resistance Art as well as the propaganda of the perpetrators had audiences stunned. These were real. Students were engaged not with a book or with a lined piece of paper, but with real history. The authenticity inspired. Teachers, the opportunity of putting the history in the hands of our students and before the eyes of the community is facing history at its best; there is nothing like it.
To learn how you can bring pieces of this exhibit to your school, check out the travelling workshops the museum offers @ annefrank.com/newannefrank/students-educators/teacher-workshops/

Topics: Art, History, Genocide and Crimes Against Humanities Course, CHG


This is where Canadian Facing History and Ourselves teachers and community members meet to share reflections, scholarship and teaching practices that will inspire, challenge and improve teaching and student learning. Our stories provide a window into diverse Facing History classrooms in Canada, and invite you into the discussion.

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