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Facing History and Ourselves National Foundation, Inc.

Facing History and Ourselves is an international educational non-profit organization that engages middle and high school teachers and their students in an examination of racism, prejudice, and antisemitism by relating the past to the world today. Facing History helps students find meaning in the past and recognize the need for participation and responsible decision making. Based in Brookline, Massachusetts and with branches in six U.S. cities, Facing History and Ourselves provides a range of resources (printed, network-based, speakers' bureaus, videotapes) to confront racism, prejudice and anti-Semitism in schools and the wider society.

Since 1976, Facing History has been engaging students of diverse backgrounds in an examination of racism, prejudice, and antisemitism in order to promote the development of a more humane and informed citizenry. By studying the historical development and lessons of the Holocaust and other examples of genocide, students make the essential connection between history and the choices they confront in their own lives.

Facing History's philosophy is shaped by cognitive and moral development theory, which promotes an understanding of different perspectives, competing truths, and the need to comprehend one's own motives and those of others. Facing History fosters cognitive growth and historical understanding through content that continually complicates students' thinking. Adolescence is a time when young people are developing abstract reasoning and beginning to make independent moral judgements. Students need to reflect on their thinking in order to become aware of their own development.

Facing History and Ourselves is devoted to teaching about the dangers of indifference and the value of civility. Our programs and resources help educators confront the complexities of history in ways that promote critical and creative thinking about the challenges we face and the opportunities we have for positive change.

What Is Facing History's Classroom Model?

Facing History and Ourselves provides a educational framework – called the "scope and sequence" – that links history and ethics. Our programs and materials explore universal themes in a particular history using an interdisciplinary approach to citizenship education.

The Facing History model engages students in an exploration of individual and group identity and their impact on membership in a society, looking at critical periods in history. Facing History's fundamental case study examines the failure of democracy in Germany, the rise of domination of Nazism, and the Holocaust. Students explore the choices people made as individuals, members of groups, and citizens of nations, including a consideration of the role of perpetrators and victims, as well as of bystanders and rescuers.

Using the core case study, students gain insights into the fragility of democracy, and the importance of prevention. As they learn about the humiliation and murder of millions, students come to realize that the Holocaust was not inevitable.

After examining issues of memory and judgment, students explore ways the past influences the present and shapes the future. Connections are made between history and the moral choices individuals confront in their own lives as democratic participants in an increasingly global society.

How Does Facing History Incorporate Research and Scholarship?

Facing History and Ourselves engages in a range of research and development to deepen our understanding of history to keep our program timely and relevant. A National Board of Scholars help enrich our thinking on past and current events, and guide the development of Facing History's curricular materials. Scholars also share their insights and research first-hand with educators at various workshops and seminars.

What Are Facing History's Resources?

Facing History regularly produces classroom resources to deepen conversations around themes central to the Facing History program. Learn more about Facing History's unique resources.

Educators who have attended Facing History and Ourselves' professional development have access to a lending library of videos, books, and other materials that are circulated nationally. In addition, they have access to all of Facing History's online resources. The website provides an opportunity for educators to engage with their peers and Facing History staff in a series of deepening collaborations around content, methodology and community-building.

What Does Facing History Provide Educators?

Facing History and Ourselves' professional development focuses on the teacher as a key agent for educational change. It provides educators with tools for analyzing history and ethics, and responding to issues of racism, prejudice and antisemitism.

Facing History offers…

  • Workshops, seminars, and conferences that introduce Facing History's classroom model and content, and offer unique opportunities to interact with scholars and explore innovative teaching practices.
  • Materials that can be adapted to students in history, language arts, science, and art classes.
  • Continued support-including individual consultations with Facing History staff, access to speakers, and use of the Facing History Resource Center.
  • Interdisciplinary models for linking the classroom to the community.

Resource Link: www.facing.org


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