Today’s News, Tomorrow’s History is an ongoing series with Listenwise. This series connects Facing History’s themes with today’s current events using public radio to guide and facilitate discussions around the social issues of our time. This is part of a special California series with Listenwise where we make connections to issues as they are particularly relevant for Californians.
“I have learned two lessons in my life: first, there are no sufficient literary, psychological, or historical answers to human tragedy, only moral ones. Second, just as despair can come to one another only from other human beings, hope, too, can be given to one only by other human beings.” ― Elie Wiesel
Last week, we held our second of three webinars in our fall series with Listenwise, this one focused on exploring current events with an attention to Social-Emotional Learning. With the violence that has happened since then, most visibly in Kentucky and Pittsburgh, I find myself this week turning to the words of Elie Wiesel.
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.