Happy Halloween! I survived the 2012 Zombie Run in Darlington MD this past weekend…barely. I had one flag on my belt left. It is interesting to see what holidays and festivals catch on in nations AND how they are interpreted, what meanings are given to
them, symbols used, traditions created, and rituals practiced. I have always been a fan of Halloween’s regional boundedness (in the US -New England,PA, NY, NJ, made sense… but beyond those states, it never resonated with me). Halloween in Arizona, Hawaii, Indiana… just doesn’t seem to fit. What about in India, China, or Saudi Arabia? When I lived in Brazil, there was a quasi-visceral movement against celebrating Halloween. It was seen as cultural imperialism by the US; non-sensical practice to sell candy. Halloween was a pop-cultural event celebrated beyond the expat community. What other parts of the globe had it expanded? A quick search found this map charting global Halloween created on ChartsBin (more on this website in the future). ChartsBin does reference its sources!
So, what is behind my Halloween mask today. I have one history trick, one technology treat, and a Tony Blair Global…BOO! Enjoy.
TRICK: Video games can teach. Growing up playing simulations/adventure games on my Apple IIGS like Pirates!, Revolution ’76, and Balance of Power expanded my vocabulary and conceptual frameworks, introduced me to historical people and events, and reinforced time and space contexts. It goes without saying then, that I felt blissful nostalgia when I saw ads for Assassin’s Creed 3 a historical action game set around American Revolution. Great. Another generation would engage the American Revolution in a different format and enjoy it. But then I read CNN’s review by Larry Frum “American history unfolds in ‘Assassin’s Creed 3″. The article takes nothing away from the game. It is Frum’s opening paragraph that makes me wince: “History, we are told, is immutable. What has happened cannot be changed and, when lessons are not heeded, is doomed to repeat itself.: UGGGHH.
Issue 1: History is not immutable. History is a rendering of the past, a human conceptual construct that changes according to sources used, experiences, intent etc.
Issue 2: What has happened changes because interpretation changes. This is an empowering aspect of historical study. History is not an external canon to be memorized.
Issue 3: History doesn’t repeat itself. History doesn’t DO anything. History is not a mystical force that directs. Most of all, history is not inevitable. When people speak in these terms they are sharing their world views, and limited understanding of historical studies, theory, and epistemology.
TREAT: The University of Texas at Austin, Hemispheres and Not Even Past are pleased to announce the launch of 15 Minute History, a podcast—with supplementary materials—about World and US history. This podcast series is devoted to short, accessible discussions of important topics in World History and US History. The discussions will be conducted by the award winning faculty and graduate students at the University of Texas at Austin. They are off
to a great start! As of Halloween 2012, they have 5 episodes:
- Introducing 15 Minute History
- The February Revolution of 1917
- Islamic Extremism in the Modern World
- The Scramble for Africa
- Perspectives of the Founding Fathers
Another neat feature is that they are taking suggestions! Email the staff (they got back to me within minutes). Combine that with a transcript of the podcast and further reading, and 15 minute history’s future looks bright. Add them to your bag of tricks… I mean treats.
TONY BLAIR:I was recently introduced to an outstanding Global Education program/curriculum used in over 600 schools worldwide called Face to Faith. Started in 2008, the The Tony Blair Faith Foundationaims to promote respect and understanding about the world’s major religions and show how faith can be a powerful force for good in the modern world. The former Prime Minister of the UK notes “I have always believed that faith is an essential part of the modern world. As globalisation pushes us ever closer it is vital it’s not used as a force for conflict and division. Faith is not something either old-fashioned or to be used for extremism.” This sentiment may unsettle some individual’s world views and narrative of a secular progression through world history. Meeting with a teacher who uses the program in Utah public schools, curriculum coordinators, representatives from the DOE and NCSS, I soon realized that Face to Faith was an empowering curriculum that trains educators how to teach global issues through religious perspectives. Amazing! The program is in 19 countries; Australia, Canada, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Israel, Italy, Jordan, Lebanon, Mexico, Pakistan, Palestine, Philippines, Singapore, UAE, UK, Kosovo, Ukraine and USA. Face to Faith guarantees an interactive, global and life-changing experience for participating schools, teachers and students.
If interested, you can contact Dr. Charles Haynes director of the Religious Freedom Education Project at the Newseum and a senior scholar at the First Amendment Center, or Marcia Beauchamp at email@example.com