Sunday, December 23, 2007

"Facing History and Ourselves" - An Online Curriculum, fostering "a humane, informed citizenry"

Our roots and our history are not always pretty. Sometimes it takes upheaval before we see those roots, like this upended tree.

Roots. Like our own history, not always pretty

We have that upheaval, in the multiple instances of hate wars, hate crimes. Needed: New hope in learning from our past, and helping our children grow to see other options.

Some wise people are indeed creating opportunities to enrich our understanding of ourselves and our roots, so our children may do better.

Recommendation: Visit this site: "Facing History and Ourselves," at //www.facinghistory.org/campus/reslib.nsf/pages/aboutus.

Focus: Countering hate events.

This is an online campus that focuses on straight-on examination of history's hate events, violence, prejudice, anti- any-ism (here anti-Semitism, but surely they go beyond that.

Does the program include gypsies? If not, it should. See Gypsies, Roma, Individuals and Culture). Add genocides. See other examples of the kinds of events we brought upon ourselves, or let go on too long, as though any thinking person needs a reminder. See Studying World Wars, hub page; or Petr Ginz: Life and Legacy; and Places of Petr Ginz, WWII Child Diarist, Prague, CZ, PL. Explore the curriculum yourself, if you can. This program is geared to networks of educators. How might it work here?

Apply to home.

We read that some large school systems are revamping their curricula. Our urban system is doing that. There have been years of proven disservice to our young people, as measured by low literacy and high dropout and violence rates in public high schools, usually inner city. Hartford's new four "academies" are proposed to replace one of the one-unit high school organizations.

Hartford, view from the reservoir
.
Here is Hartford itself - just down the yellow brick road. The account of its venerable and now long- beleaguered school system as an example, is at ://www.courant.com/news/education/hc-hartfordhigh1218.artdec18,0,5527117.story.

The focus at this inner-city high school: one academy each for
  • law,
  • nursing,
  • engineering and
  • government.
Critique:
.
Fine, but where in those academies is room for the deep human analysis and discussion of the horrors we do to each other. Is that under some rug? Where is the opportunity to explore and participate in arts, philosophy, history, music, as serious endeavors.

We need those studies to foster leaders and challengers, and to keep the practical employment programs from merely churning out obedient workers. Fodder forever? No. But we have to be careful. Some groups in privileged positions would like a perpetual worker class. Is that right?

Morally, that is not right. But it is politically probable if we don't watch out, and all it takes is churning out technicians, not thinkers.

The good news.

The curriculum. Could it be added to the practical, jobs approach. That is the curriculum, "Facing History and Ourselves". Some things should be taken seriously. Very seriously.

Digress for balance.

Things get so bad out there, that some of us just want a break. Visit the military cemetery in Saratoga, NY, near the Revolutionary War battlefield and sites. Humor is also human. See Wilbert Thomas LaGasse, a Saratoga vet with a world-view.

Who's to judge. Can we keep ourselves in perspective? A survivor of warfare lies here, tongue in cheek. Can our kids survive what we do, and end up ok? Probably.

If this is the answer, what was the question, and who asked it

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