oon after Oprah named Elie Wiesel’s Night
as her January book club pick, the impressive Facing History and Ourselves
organization made available a collection of resources
to help stimulate classroom discussions of this important work.
Founded in 1976 in Brookline, Massachusetts, Facing History and Ourselves is a non-profit educational organization that offers teachers a professional development program designed to help them explore issues of historical relevance in the classroom. Facing History and Ourselves also features a dynamic framework for learning. Through a Facing History course, “students gain exposure to sophisticated historical and literary texts, including an impressive array of primary source materials, and to a variety of intellectual and philosophical concepts. As they sharpen their analytical skills, students see the complexities of history, and make appropriate connections between the past and the present.”
Touted as a civic education program, Facing History and Ourselves also teaches about citizenship and the critical need for citizens to take their responsibilities seriously. By coming to terms with the impact of civic passivity in the recent past and recognizing current opportunities for activism, students learn lessons that influence them in very personal, important ways.
Now with seven regional offices, an international office in Switzerland, and multiple on-line course offerings, Facing History and Ourselves has trained teachers around the world who offer the complete course or integrate portions of the curriculum into current class offerings. Overall, millions of students have heard the critical Facing History message of understanding, a message that not only bridges the 20th and 21st centuries but helps ensure a more insightful, tolerant tomorrow. As their website puts it: “For more than 27 years, Facing History has engaged teachers and students of diverse backgrounds in an examination of racism, prejudice, and antisemitism in order to promote the development of a more humane and informed citizenry.”
(Photo © Jose Gil - FOTOLIA)