Key Ideas: Re-Thinking, Reflecting, Reasoning
In this article I share with you some of the key ideas that drive Facing History http://www.facinghistory.org/ Their teaching materials focus on using the lens of human behavior and help us to understand our choices.
Civility is a work of the imagination. It is through the imagination that we render others sufficiently like ourselves for them to become subjects of tolerance and respect.
On the flip side, “You’ve got to be taught to hate and fear” – song from South Pacific.
Students are inspired to use the whole of their spiritual, moral, and intellectual
resources to solve a problem.
Teachers help young people think critically and independently, to consider implications of choices, and make judgments with intellectual honesty, integrity, justice, and empathy.
What we teach has to be a counterweight – lessons that promote understanding and
“In order to shape the future we must squarely face the realities of the past
– not try to hide them.” – Hannah Arendt
Mistreatment of others happens when we have unchallenged dogmas of racism, etc.
Things in the past didn’t just happen. They were the results of choices made by
countless individuals and groups.
People tend NOT to be shocked by atrocities if they follow hundreds of small steps, many of them almost imperceptible. If you did not take a stand at Step A, then why would you at Step B and so on.
History is not inevitable.
The more we learn about why and how people behave the way they do, the more likely we are to get involved and find our own solutions.
Education in democracy must be what Tocqueville called, “an apprenticeship in liberty.”
Citizens emerge when we promote the right attitudes, values, and skills.
“What happens to a dream deferred?” asked Langston Hughes. “Does it sag like a heavy
load or explode like a raisin in the sun?”
I am a survivor of a concentration camp. My eyes saw what no man should witness:
Gas chambers built by learned engineers.
Children poisoned by educated physicians.
Infants killed by trained nurses.
Women and babies shot and burned by high school and college graduates.
So I am suspicious of education. My request is:
Help your students become human.
Your efforts must never produce learned monsters, skilled psychopaths, educated Eichmanns.
Reading, writing, arithmetic are important only if they serve to make our children
Sent by a Principal to his teachers on the first day of school.
Facing History uses the lens of human behavior, holding up the mirror of history to help us ask ourselves:
“Who are we? and “Who can we be?”
Nazism appealed to loyalty, belonging, and community to encourage a psychological
state in which people are sucked in to processes that sapped their consciousness
and allowed them to abdicate social responsibility.
Members were protected from thinking by routines, clichés and constant pressure to conform. People outside of the membership were turned into numbers.
We must beware of the itch for push-button order and instead, seek to touch people.
• Examine the consequences of actions and analyze the causes.
• Confront moral questions of violence, racism, anti-Semitism, and bigotry.
• Move from judgment to participation.
• Adolescents can be the moral philosophers of our generation.
• Turning neighbor against neighbor leads to violence.
• We pose signifcant questions in order to complicate the thinking of those who would be content with unexamined solutions.
• The new three R’s: Re-Thinking, Reflecting, and Reasoning.