Tuesday, March 06, 2007


I made the mistake tonight of watching one of the Netflix movies that's been sitting on the coffee table for a number of weeks just waiting for me.

It was an episode of PBS' Frontline titled "Ghosts of Rwanda." I put it in my cue a while ago when I realized I knew very little about what had happened there in the mid-90s. Friends were telling me I should see the film Hotel Rwanda, but I wanted a more historical perspective first.

I want to yell at people. I want to yell at myself, go to work for the Red Cross, write letters to world leaders, go back to college and ger a higher degree so I can do something, write letters of apology to those Rwandans who lost their families, anything - anything.

My frustration is compounded by the fact I've been making my way through What is the What? in my free time. Dave Eggers' fictionalized biography of a Sudanese refugee is further opening my eyes to the atrocities still living in the world.

How easy it would be to simply not act. "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing." Thank you, Edmund Burke.

And so, I turn to what I can do as an educator. What can I do as an educator? Nowhere in my standards does it say I'm to bring these issues to my students. They appear nowhere on standardized tests.

They never have. The Rwandan Genocide was taking place while I was in high school. Hundreds of thousands were being murdered while the world did nothing and not one of my teachers mentioned it in class. It wasn't on the radar.

The devil's advocate in my mind argues it would have made no difference, that I could have done nothing and likely would have done nothing. Perhaps not. But in the age of information, how is it that this information failed to affect impact me? I know I'm asking numerous rhetorical questions here. It's just the place my brain is in.

I find it odd that we speak so frequently about globalization, but mention it almost solely in reference to the developed world. I've heard and read numerous reasons why educators need to pony up because we're preparing our students to fight for jobs in a global workplace. I see this need an understand the factors at play.

That cannot be the only effect globalization has on education. It cannot simply be about preparing my students to exist in a marketplace. Enough about jobs in a global workplace, I need to prepare my students to fight for all lives in a global community.

More later.

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Paul Wilkinson said...

Have a look at http://www.takingitglobal.org/
this might be one way to connect your students to real world issues.


Jason said...

Here are some sites that I use for my classes.


Each has a section dealing with current genocides and has information about how students can get involved. The MTV site is great because it covers many other issues that might be of interest to students.

Cooper Levey-Baker said...

I just finished reading a comprehensive accounting of the Rwandan genocide and subsequent wars there:


Gourevitch replaced George Plimpton as editor of The Paris Review and has an amazing way of telling stories.

You ask about teaching students to act with courage in the world, but they are surrounded constantly by a culture that teaches them to be narcissistic, self-centered and ignorant. What troubles me more than lazy kids is lazy adults, who choose to remain cocooned in childish fantasies rather than engage in the world.