Six years ago, Prime Minister Stephen Harper made a public apology on behalf of all Canadians for the residential schools the government of Canada created in the 19th century that plagued the fabric of Canadian history for generations to come. Between 1880 and 1996, more than 150,000 First Nations, Inuit, and Métis children were forced into Indian residential schools and thousands did not survive. Those that did survive suffered a loss of language, culture, family, and self. Many suffered abuse at the hands of those who were supposed to care for them.
As elementary schools have just passed the mid-point of the school year, I’ve taken some time to reflect on the first half of the year. Schools are part of a larger educational system. However, our classrooms are also a microcosm of society; a community of members with jobs to do, and rules, norms and expectations, which members are expected to follow. But, as we are too well aware, within the larger society, we encounter issues of unfairness and injustice. I’ve been questioning my practice and asking myself: Does my classroom parallel the oppressions of our society? Am I reinforcing and reproducing what is happening in the larger society in my classroom?
This summer, Jack Lipinsky, along with 10 other Facing History and Ourselves teachers from Jewish day schools around North America, participated in a week-long study trip to central Poland. The trip was led by Facing History’s Director of Jewish Education Jan Darsa. It was sponsored by Polish non-profit The Forum for Dialogue Among Nations. His experiences, in particular his visit to the town of Pińczów, impacted him greatly.
As you may have read in other blogs, the “Stand Up, Speak Out” event was an incredible evening of sharing and community. For me it served to exemplify, and personify, the Scope and Sequence of Facing History and Ourselves. On that evening, half a dozen of my students took the stage along with students from three other southern Ontario schools to perform their spoken word pieces. The performances were broken down into the five steps of the Facing History Scope and Sequence:
Topics: Choosing to Participate, Facing History Resources, Identity, History, Urban Education, project, We and They, Strategies, Culturally Responsive and Relevant Pedagogy, genocide, legacy, Genocide and Crimes Against Humanities Course, Holocaust and Human Behaviour, CHG, reflection
Culturally Responsive and Relevant Pedagogy [CRRP]