The Breadwinner by Deborah Ellis has inspired a beautifully-animated film soon-to-be released to theaters. Both highlight a role in the world today not often discussed: children of war who must take on the role of provider or "breadwinner" for themselves and/or their family. This role is further complicated in the setting of Afghanistan, where tightly-controlled gender expectations limit what women or girls can do.
Is literature one of your entry points for talking about challenging issues in the world today? Join Facing History and other educators for a unique event series which bridges literature and non-fiction to open new discussions on critical current issues.
William Hastie, the first African American to serve as a federal judge, asserted, “Democracy is a process, not a static condition. It is becoming, rather than being. It can easily be lost, but never is fully won. Its essence is eternal struggle.”
On social media and in previous posts on this blog, a number of teachers have identified a video, "The Legacies of Reconstruction" as providing a helpful voice this week. In addition to the opportunity to explore the history that is relevant for understanding today's world, there is a message of hope. For those not as familiar with the history of Reconstruction or this video in particular, we wanted to share an excerpt. We hope it is encouragement through tough conversations, whether at school or in our communities.
Earlier this week, we shared how three teachers interwove setting up their classes during the first days of school with creating space to grapple with current events. (Click here for that initial post.) We've continued to hear from teachers, including one who said poignantly, “basically, we need to teach Reconstruction as thoroughly/often as we teach the Bill of Rights, the writing of the Constitution."
Here are two more examples, one for a student classroom and one for bringing adults into conversation before they create discussion spaces with young people.
We’ve been hearing from a number of teachers that one of the key challenges in trying to facilitate conversation about the events in Charlottesville is determining what language to use, particularly in relation to groups and people.
Here are a few recommendations from our conversations:
- Let’s directly engage and confront the issue of white supremacy.
When significant current events occur right as students come back to school, teachers' jobs get even trickier. Any first days back include getting to know students' names, setting up class structures, and laying a foundation for the community and learning that will happen all year long. Add on top of that an immediate need to address heightened emotional levels and critical understanding of complicated events, and it can feel overwhelming.
This week, many schools in the Southern California area are welcoming students back for the school year. So, the news from Charlottesville this weekend, the imagery and violence which students may have seen, will likely be weighing heavily on the hearts and minds of educators. It is weighing on our hearts and minds as well.
What happens when you give space over to questions and dialogue? How do you make sure that space is constructive for learning, and one in which multiple perspectives can be heard and understood?