Last night I caught the end of a PBS Frontline program on Haitian refugees who were detained by the US government at Guantanamo Bay in the 1990s. The policy seemed to be a carry over from President Bush to President Clinton. Eventually and slowly the refugees were able to enter America, but only after the PRESS - yes that enemy to America according to our current POTUS, or could it just be the enemy to injustice, I leave that for you to decide as we are seeing injustice by both Democrats and Republicans in this instance. Back to history- The press recorded the brutal treatment the Haitian refugees suffered at the hands of American military troops. This expedited the release from Guantanamo Bay and migration to America, however there was one group that was debated even into the high courts. Haitians who were HIV were denied entrance until the courts finally ruled in their favor.
This is but one example of injustice in our history. I had also seen a post on Twitter Recently about the Japanese Interment so I went back and took a few screenshots of those images. In reading through the feed many made a connection between this event and our current President's push for a Muslim Ban. As someone who studied history I understand the desire to project a sense of security to a nation as FEAR is a powerful force. Unfortunately trying to prevent fear about one issue creates FEAR of another kind. By alienating and demonizing and stereotyping one group of people we create FEAR that turns into distrust, anger and even violence towards that group of people. We saw in the execution of Executive order 9066 that people many of whom were US Citizens entitled to due process and protections of the law were stripped of their homes, possessions and freedoms.
"I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with LIBERTY and JUSTICE for all."
Please read those words and take pause in the last phrase - Liberty and Justice for all! We spent last week talking about African American History and know our nations policies and many individuals did not support or provide Liberty and Justice for African Americans and we still struggle with equality today. Think about other groups and how we view and treat them in society. Do we live up to those ideals.
I used to ask these questions to my students and had a parent challenge me as to why I would show these negatives of America, why I wouldn't continue to build it up as the best nation in the world. My response - I truly believe America is a Great Nation and always has been despite campaign rhetoric. My purpose for shedding light on these an other instances, (we haven't even touched on the treatment of Native Americans) but I wouldn't be doing my job if I didn't present history from a variety of perspectives that provide accurate accounts of the actions and intentions of those who shaped history and the consequences of those decisions. It is not my intent to tear down America but rather build it up. You can't improve upon something until you discover the flaws, imperfections and at times the glaring disfunction of the system.
America is a great nation made up of people who are imperfect making imperfect and sometimes horrendous decisions. If we ignore those past mistakes and injustices we are destined to relive similar events in our present and future. We cannot sit idly by as our government and many citizens work to segregate, dehumanize groups of people and instill FEAR and mistrust in others based on religious beliefs or where they come from.
Q1 The only thing we have to FEAR is FEAR itself! What does this mean to you, and how can you use this concept/understanding with educating our future leaders/current students?
Q2 Make America Great! (again?) What does this mean to you? What does it look like? How do we achieve greatness for all?
Q3 How do you use events like the Japanese Internment and Haitian Refugees to teach our students?
Q4 Why are events like these vital to teach our students? What do we hope they will learn?
Q5 They came for the African Americans and I said nothing, They came for the Japanese Americans and I said nothing, They came for the Haitian Refugees and I said nothing, They came for the Mexican Immigrants and I said nothing, They came for the Muslim Immigrants and I said nothing... When we say nothing we give consent to the actions. How do we stand up and help our students learn to stand up to injustice around them?
Q6 The Press is the Enemy of America! This attack on the Freedom of the Press, and their legitimacy, can cause catastrophic damage to our own freedoms and liberties. How do we protect these freedoms and teach their value to students in a time of "Fake News" and Alternative Facts"?
Q7 Liberty and Justice for ALL! How do we teach history knowing that this hasn't always been the case? How do we educate our students about injustice and still maintain a democratic system of peaceful discourse?
Today I am making the leap from dialogue in a very popular TV show that ran its last episode the year I was born to African American History Month.
This weekend while trying to recover from a cold I was flipping through the channels and came across an old episode of The Brady Bunch. In the few moments I watched there was a conversation between Marcia and Mrs. Brady. Marcia was having dating issues and Mrs. Brady was trying to connect with her relating that she too had been through similar experiences. Marcia rebuffed the notion stating “Parents just don’t understand our generation, things have changed since you were my age.” To which Mrs. Brady replied, “Only times have changed, sweetheart, people haven’t.” This stood out to me for many reasons.
I think about the study of history as the study of people and their behaviors. History is made by people who are very similar to people today. They make choices based on their needs, wants and desires. People do things that are in their best interest more often than not. We could go into a whole discussion on how human behavior has lead us to where we are today and we continue to see those power grabs play out in modern society, but that is for another day.
The dialogue from Mrs. Brady made me think about the events unfolding around us in America today. We are embroiled in debate of a Muslim Ban, building the “Great Wall” yes the name can be a little confusing as China already has a Great Wall and not to be confused with the movie by the same title. We have “Fake News” and “Alternative Facts.” We are being told by our Commander in Chief that any negative press or polls against him is due to media bias and is “Fake News” All of this has made me reflect on the power grabs from the past. The use of propaganda, control of the media, and steps to paint certain groups as scapegoats for the ills of society. This strategy has been around for centuries, but seems particularly concerning in a Democracy. A government and society that is supposed to have the rights of individual citizens held above reproach and protected against attacks.
Carole Brady’s words about times have changed, but people haven’t is evident in our society in many ways. How does this all connect to African American History month? People's self interest, bigotry, racism, selfishness persists and guides our actions and interactions. So people continue to exhibit these behaviors at times to the detriment of society. While others step up and do what is right. Yet there is still a great need for change to continue both in times and in how people see each other. We have made great strides to make this world a better place, but we still have a long way to go. I see the celebration of African American History as the compilation of so many individuals standing against the status quo, standing against the forces of oppression and taking action for the greater good despite the potential risk to their own safety. History is made up of individuals doing extraordinary things in extraordinary circumstances.
Tonight we are looking at the idea of creation projects. Last week I asked you for some ideas of things that you have previously done. Here is the post that includes the Google Form for you to continue to share your amazing lesson ideas or examples. My plan is after I get a number of these I will begin putting these on the site for all to see and use with their students. I encourage you to share your awesome ideas as I have come to realize - if we can help each other a little bit with an idea, an inspiration, or an entire lesson plan we are impacting not only our own students but the students in other's classes, and all students are our students. We want all students to succeed so we can have intelligent, compassionate, problem solving adults creating a better world.
I think tonight's topic fits under the E for Engagement of the PIRATE acronym. Engagement is key to creating a fun learning environment. I have found in my own learning that when I am able to create something I have a sense of accomplishment. I am hoping that tonight's topic will spark some ideas in you to help unlock your students' creativity.
I searched for examples of the different topics we will discuss tonight in hopes of providing you with some inspiration to continue to create awesome experiences for your students.
SSTLAP started a little over three years ago as a means to connect the ideas shared by Dave Burgess in his amazing book Teach Like a Pirate. As part of the vision to create the chat was for social studies teachers to connect and collaborate. In this time I have seen too many amazing lesson ideas and student created products to count. I have been able to take some of these ideas and use them immediately in my classroom and see the instant change in the demeanor, excitement and level of achievement in my students that helped create a more dynamic learning environment.
What I have come to realize is we have been great at sharing ideas, engaging in amazing conversations and inspiring each other but have done a poor job or collecting and archiving those resources. The idea of writing a book is in some ways just a hypothetical endeavor at least at this point, but thought it connects to the vision I have for collecting and sharing the great resources that this amazing group of educators has created and shared. We have a wide range of teachers show up in this chat and share resources in the feed frequently. We have K-12, online, college, retired and non-social studies teachers join us.
What I am proposing is to create a place on this site where we chronicle the great lessons you have created or ideas you have for great learning activities that you are willing to share. The ideas will be posted here and available for all to see, use, and hopefully create opportunities for more collaboration.
The form below is a starting point to share the great lessons like the infamous Grudgeball, or the transformation of a classroom into a Speakeasy or the trenches of World War I. We might see a lesson about students dealing with a historical issue like creating their own plan for Reconstruction, or a gamified lesson on the Renaissance. The list might include the use of bracketology for what event was the most important of the Cold War or some other time period. We could possibly see ways that teachers have created their own guest speakers complete with costumes. An incredible lesson that I hope finds its way to our list is a mummification unit that include a mannequin.
Recently I have discovered #Booksnaps thanks to @TaraMartinEdu -where you use Snapchat to create images of pages from books with summaries or highlights of the main ideas.
I also saw that Tyler George was inviting his pre-service teachers to the chat so I thought it was fitting to mix this technology with the foundation of #sstlap which is #tlap or Teach Like A Pirate if you are new to the conversation.
Questions are below- love to hear how you could use #booksnaps in your class or have students create using Snapchat for good.