31 May 2013

INVITATION: Facing the past seminar for history educators

The South African History Archive will be hosting a 2-day Facing the Past - Transforming our Future seminar for history educators to be facilitated by Shikaya from 09h00 - 16h00 26 – 27 June 2013 at Constitution Hill. 

Using 2 case studies from the curriculum, educators will be used to a methodology for teaching history that aims to cultivate students’ awareness of the ways that society is shaped by the choices of individuals, and the role that they can play in the creation of a culture that values human rights, diversity and peace.

From Eugenics to Race and Membership in South Africa - this case study will explore the eugenics movement and its impact on the United States, Nazi Germany and ultimately, South Africa. In the early 1900s many people believed that eugenics, or “race science,” was a progressive solution to social problems. Followers of eugenics argued that protecting “racial purity” was essential in creating a healthy nation. In the United States and around the world, eugenics had a profound impact on educational and public policies; in Nazi Germany, this new branch of scientific inquiry was ultimately used to justify mass murder. In South Africa, racial science laid a foundation for the creation of a racial state under apartheid. The seminar will provide an in-depth exploration of Facing the Past resources on eugenics and apartheid South Africa.

Choices in Little Rock (US civil rights movement) - the case-study of school integration during the US Civil Rights Movement in which nine black teenagers faced angry mobs on their first day of school in Little Rock, Arkansas in 1957. Their attempt to desegregate Central High School ignited a crisis that historian Taylor Branch described as “the most severe test of the [American] Constitution since the Civil War.” Using our resource, Choices in Little Rock, participants will examine ways to engage students in the issues raised by the U.S. civil rights movement and their implications for today. Furthermore, this exploration will provide a platform for teachers to engage with how they teach apartheid history.



About Facing the Past - Transforming our Future History Seminars

For 10 years, Facing the Past has believed that education is the key to combating bigotry and nurturing democracy. Through a rigorous investigation of the events that led to the Holocaust, South Africa during apartheid and the choices made during the US Civil Rights movement, learners in a Facing the Past class learn to combat prejudice with compassion, indifference with participation, and myth and misinformation with knowledge. We have worked with over 400 teachers throughout their careers to improve their effectiveness in the classroom, as well as their learners’ academic performance and civic learning.

Facing the Past is a partnership between Shikaya and Facing History and Ourselves (USA).


What educators have to say about the Facing the Past programme

"I feel there is a need for teachers in South Africa to be given the support to talk about and explore the impact of our past in order to strike a balance between teaching the truth and propaganda. This support will also help us to establish a basis of true morality as suggested by ex-president Nelson Mandela - that never again should the past happen again.... The programme has made me see myself as a catalyst in the process of creating learners who are critical thinkers and caring citizens and my interactions with the other teachers has sharpened my appreciation of what they are experiencing."

- Hussain Mohamed, Rylands High School

"For me personally the Facing the Past programme has meant enriching my experiences by connecting with others of diverse backgrounds and listening to their stories which are so powerful and adds to the richness of our history. The programme has helped me focus on the relevant parts of this history because there is so much to focus on and to encourage the learners to look at there own stories by asking their families. The power of storytelling is a very useful teaching method... What the facing the past workshops have done is to give us space and acknowledgement that our stories are powerful too. This of course is mirrored what we then do in our classrooms."

- Irene Riffell, Pinelands High School

"I have gained in-depth knowledge in as far as the subject of racism is concerned. At Grade 11 there is a new module, eugenics. I believe that many history educators have not been exposed to this subject. In our workshops this topic has been dealt with thoroughly. I have no doubt that I am competent in this topic. There is a lot of teacher support material that is provided in our workshops. As much as my school does not have the infrastructure to use some of it, especially video clips, I think it is good to know which material to use when dealing with a particular topic. I can improvise and be innovative."

- Lindinxiwe Mahlasela, Khayamandi Senior Secondary School

"I was born in 1948, the year of Apartheid, so my experience is Apartheid South Africa and beyond.... Now I can teach the good of human rights. I can bring witnesses into my classroom, I can teach with empathy and understanding... I can do this too because I have been given the huge privilege of being part of Facing the Past and have sat with, spoken with, listened to, felt anguish with colleagues from the disadvantaged and privileged schools and we have hugged and cried together. facing the past gives us the tools, the wisdom and the courage to face the students and help them not to be perpetrators, not to stand by while others suffer and not to allow ourselves to be victims. It gives us all the tools to create hope."

- Geoff Olivier, SACS High School


If you would like to participate in this 2 day seminar, please contact SAHA on info@saha.org.za or 011 718 2560.

Spaces are limited so please RSVP early.