The students in my Genocide and Crimes Against Humanity course gained new and meaningful perspectives on what life was like for those targeted for extermination by the Nazi regime by creating a unique and innovative art exhibition that explored the lives of young victims of the Holocaust.
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
In 2013, Waterdown District High School teacher Robert Flosman applied for and won a Margot Stern Strom Innovation Grant to create a Museum of History in his classroom as a way to engage students deeply and differently in the study of history. In November 2014, he wrote a post for this blog describing his museum. One year later, Rob has more to tell us about the museum Facing History and Ourselves’ grant made possible.
At the release of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s final report, the call to educate all Canadians about the treatment and legacy of the Indian Residential Schools was loud and clear.
Facing History high school teacher Cheryl Payne-Stevens embarked on this important (and daunting!) task with her students and shared her experience with us:
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?
On November 6, 2014 Facing History and Ourselves co-presented an evening with Professor Dr. James Waller, discussing the role of Nazi doctors in the persecution of gay men during the Holocaust.
Explore the culture, psychological, and social factors that drove Nazi policy against gay men and justified, in the minds of Nazi doctors, their perpetration of such atrocities.
“Ms. Payne, we are so privileged to witness these survivors’ stories. We must do something with this knowledge.”
Such a mature and poignant statement. This is what we want from all of our students: Not to be passive listeners, but to contemplate and then choose to participate.
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: