Even though the end of the academic year is almost here, the most intense lessons were during the last weeks of the year. One of the topics in the IB history curriculum is authoritarian states, of which Hitler and Nazi Germany were discussed in my lessons. Last year, I taught the same syllabus, but I was disappointed with lack of depth in the lessons. Hence, I wanted to make sure that the outcome of the lessons series was more meaningful, rather than "just knowing" what happened. Therefore, the big idea that I wanted to convey was the role of the bystander; the person who witnesses but does nothing to stop it. To what extent is that allowing for atrocities to happen? The tools I used for teaching this idea were the Universe of Obligation and The Pyramid of Hate.
The Southern Tenant Farmers Union (STFU) was a resistance movement founded in 1934 to address the issues created by the Agricultural Adjustment Act, which was a part of the New Deal. This act, aimed to increase prices of food, backfired by having landlords remove tenants from their lands and keeping the subsidies, given by the government, for themselves. The Southern Tenant Farmers Union protested against these measurements by organising themselves, writing protest letters and going on strike. The union consisted of as well black and white people, of women and men. By discussing this union in the classroom, class, race and gender are being discussed, making the Southern Tenant Farmers Union a prime example of an intersectional topic.
Teaching skills like critical thinking, researching, and collaborating is one of the most important task of education nowadays. Sometimes it is difficult to fully focus on these important competences, since the curriculum is full and expectations high. One of the topics of the IB history exam is the "Move to Global War", for which the Japanese expansion between 1931-1945 is a case study. I designed a mock trial based on an imaginary prosecution of the Japanese emperor Hirohito to focus on as well skills as content.
The importance of the subject history is teaching valuable skills, which are essential in this 21st century society. The amount of information that each and everyone of us processes on a daily basis is uncountable. Unfortunately, we are not -yet- sufficient in distinguishing reliable sources from inadequate ones. The inspiration from this lesson is directly derived from the clear cut lessons created by the Stanford History Education Group in which students have to compare and contrast information from a variety of sources.
At the end of the school year, there were some weeks left that I used to talk about role models with my grade 9. The inspiration for this mini-unit came from the music clip “Apesh*t” by Beyonce and Jay-Z in which the couple refers to the representation of black people in art. The mini unit initiated some tough conversations about power and privilege in the class, which taught me valuable lessons. The foundation of this mini-unit were worksheets based on the video in combination with background readings and the IB learner profile attributes.