teaching, learning and living around the world
Read part 1 here.
A grade 8 textbook writer recently asked me, “I’m writing about forms of colonialism. When I write about Congo, do you think I should include a photo like this one?”
I took a moment to think about those 7 years I taught middle school social studies.
I thought about how fearless I was in exposing 13 year olds to the violent side of human history. The graphic images and harsh words we analyzed and wrote about.
I also thought about a former colleague who was absolutely appalled by my approach to teaching. Teary eyed and red faced, this colleague exclaimed, “How dare you share such things with such young children!”
I also thought about how I never, not even once, received a single student or parent complaint about my approach.
We live in a beautiful AND cruel world!
With a cruel AND beautiful past.
And I truly believe that it is difficult to be
CALLED TO ACTION
by the good alone! We need to first understand what the good was UP AGAINST!
And that usually involves violence.
So violent histories my students did learn.
I told this textbook writer about all of this. In the end I said,
“…If you’re asking me personally, what would I do?
Hell yes, I’d include that photo. I’d say, how dare I NOT include the photo.”
On that very same day, a colleague handed me Toni Morrison’s Beloved.
I dove into the foreword. TM writes,
In trying to make the slave experience intimate, I hoped… that the order and quietude of everyday life would be violently disrupted by the chaos of the needy dead; that the herculean effort to forget would be threatened by the memory desperate to stay alive.