Happy Start to the 2013 Summer.
I am big on reminders in life that remind us to live our lives actively and with perspective. The part of the title of this post“Mememto Mori” ((Latin ‘remember that you will die) is one of those reminder for me. From wikipedia – ” Popular belief says the phrase originated in ancient Rome: as a Roman general was parading through the streets during a victory triumph, standing behind him was his slave, tasked with reminding the general that, although at his peak today, tomorrow he could fall, or — more likely — be brought down. The servant is thought to have conveyed this with the warning, “Memento mori” Likewise, Albert Camus’ existential philosophy stressed that there is really only one main question in our lives: “Why should I not kill myself?” As he says in The Rebel, “the absurd is an experience that must be lived through, a point of departure, the equivalent, in existence, of Descartes’s methodical doubt.” If you want some summer beach reading from Camus, my favorite is The Fall.
This past week has provided multiple reminders and reflections on life, memory, and global perspectives. I would like to share a few of them from a beach on North Carolina’s Outer Banks. As the sign in my guest room says “If you’re lucky enough to be at the beach,you’re lucky enough.” I hope these three reminders resonate with you on some level.
A. The PAST – Memory and War – Teachers. Who among you assign’s students WV Senator Robert Byrd’s speeches in 2003 regarding the United State’s invasion of Iraq? Give them a read. Consider them for your primary source cache and
document based questions. How important is the voice of dissent in US History? (I assign Dissent in America:Voices That Shaped a Nation to my undergraduate students and believe Byrd’s speeches could be added to update Dissent in three American wars).Remember, threat of invasion sparked a record setting number of protests; the most ever seen in world history. Byrd’s two speeches, given towards the end of his 57 years of service are classic post 9/11 texts.
- “Sleepwalking Through History” -speech given on Feb 12th, 2003.
“Yet, this Chamber is, for the most part, silent — ominously, dreadfully silent. There is no debate, no discussion, no attempt to lay out for the nation the pros and cons of this particular war. There is nothing.We stand passively mute in the United States Senate, paralyzed by our own uncertainty, seemingly stunned by the sheer turmoil of events. Only on the editorial pages of our newspapers is there much substantive discussion of the prudence or imprudence of engaging in this particular war.”
- “Today, I weep for my country” – speech given on March 19, 2003. (Includes rebuttal from Sen. John McCain)
“What is happening to this country? When did we become a nation which ignores and berates our friends? When did we decide to risk undermining international order by adopting a radical and doctrinaire approach to using our awesome military might? How can we abandon diplomatic effortswhen the turmoil in the world cries out for diplomacy?
Why can this President not seem to see that America’s true power lies not in its will to intimidate, but in its ability to inspire?”
B. The PRESENT -Memory and the Global – an interview with Dr. Ed Gragert
Edwin H. Gragert is Director, Global Campaign for Education-US. GCE-US is a coalition of national and local organizations working to ensure a quality education for all worldwide. Formerly, he was Executive Director of iEARN-USA. Since 1988, iEARN (International Education and Resource Network) has pioneered the educational use of innovative communications technology and teacher professional development to facilitate on-line collaborative project-based learning in elementary and secondary schools in 130 countries worldwide. He is a member of the Steering Committee of Global Teacher Education. Recently, I had the opportunity to interview Dr. Gragert:
- Tell us about how Global Teacher Education came to be and what your vision and goals are ?
2. What are some of your experiences around Global Education that you brought to GTE?
4. What are some of the demands and opportunities on teacher preparation and PD?
5. What advice do you have for administrators and teachers regarding global education/competencies?
3. The FUTURE- Memory and Inquiry – CCSSO’s Framework for Social Studies Education.
This is a reminder and a preview. Last fall in Seattle, at the NCSS conference, we received an update on the “Vision for the College, Career, and Civic Life (C3) Framework for Inquiry in Social Studies State Standards” The key word here is “framework.” These are not standards. “The forthcoming framework, to be released in 2013, will be a significant resource for all states to consider in their local processes for upgrading state social studies standards, rather than set standardsfor states to adopt.” At the core of the frameworks are the skills of research, inquiry, and questioning. All of these are practical skills celebrated by colleges, employers, and in civic organization. Collaboration and communicating are also part of the framework’s skill based approach. “At the heart of the C3 Framework is an inquiry arc a set of interlocking and mutually supportive ideas that feature the four dimensions of informed inquiry in social studies: 1) developing questions and planning investigations; 2) applying disciplinary concepts and tools; 3) gathering, evaluating and using evidence; and 4) working collaboratively and communicating conclusions.”
This sounds great. I believe it will inject life into history and social studies education and provide focus and support to a teachers who look to interject into STEM dominated educational discussions. Moreover, it resets history education’s Romantic purpose of building national identities and assimilation in imagined communities. At its simplest, the framework recognizes that life is very often an encounter of narratives and exchange of questions.
Anyone for a game of chess?