Donald Trump was sworn in as the 45th president today, and has an ambitious plan for his first 100 days in office. But an educational organization has a different plan in mind for the first 100 days: Have teachers combat hatred and intolerance in class.
Every day from today through April 20, the education department at the University of Southern California Shoah Foundation, a nonprofit that maintains eyewitness records of the Holocaust, will release a new activity, resource, or professional development opportunity for middle school and high school teachers and their students. The initiative is called “100 Days to Inspire Respect.”
The assignment for day one is called “My Story Matters: Power of Story” and has students listen to stories that both strengthen a human connection or create a deep divide that leads to hate. The students will then construct a six-word story.
“Hatred comes from stories, and so we are countering hatred with stories,” said Kori Street, the director of education at the foundation, in a statement. “If I know your story, if I know who you are, it makes it really hard for me to ‘otherize’ you, be divisive, or hate you.”
Each of the project’s 14 weeks will center on a theme—in order: hate; racism; civil and human rights; community; respect; intolerance; women’s rights; immigrants and refugees; cross-cultural understanding; courage; violence and violent extremism; indifference through media; resilience; and civic responsibility.
The activities range in intensity, with some taking 15 minutes and others lasting a week. Students will produce videos, poems, and images, as well as conduct analysis and close reading of text. The activities will be grounded in testimonies from survivors of the Holocaust and the genocides that occurred in Rwanda, China, Armenia, and Guatemala.
The 2016 presidential election was one of the most divisive in recent memories, and some of Trump’s inflammatory campaign rhetoric stoked fears among students of color, particularly Latino students. Teachers are working to heal the divisions in their classrooms.
Image courtesy of the USC Shoah Foundation
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A version of this news article first appeared in the Teaching Now blog.