DRAFT: This module has unpublished changes.
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DRAFT: This module has unpublished changes.

In March of 2005 I took a course entitled “Memory, Truth, and Justice: How Post-Dictatorial Democracies Come to Terms with Their Past.” I had always been interested in the relationship between official histories and popular memory, and the way in which past events are inextricably wrapped up in the intersubjective process of identity formation. The course took an interdisciplinary approach and covered Germany, Spain, Chile, Argentina, South Africa, Yugoslavia, Russia, and Iraq. Although my undergraduate research was in British and American comparative history and my thesis was on the effects of emancipation in the West Indies on American Antislavery discourse, the broad philosophical questions raised in that one course have stuck with me.

When reading the Brown University Steering Committee on Slavery and Justice’s report, I was again made acutely aware of the persistent questions and issues which surround any attempt to confront historical injustice. The work on truth and reconciliation commissions and other attempts at restorative justice reminded me once again of the importance of teaching these difficult histories to young people.

The essential question for the social studies courses at Brown Summer High School this year is: Who’s stories haven’t been told in American History. As I began preparing for this with my teaching team we quickly realized how broad this question really was. Concentrating on slavery and the slave-trade in Rhode Island, New England, and the North as a point of departure, we hope students will learn about the ways in which this history has been (mis)represented. The patterns of privilege and neglect in the telling of stories from the past illustrate problems of historical evidence and in the methodology of “doing” history. As students hone their analytical and synthetic thinking skills, we expect that they will begin to ask critical questions. Why have certain forms of historical evidence and artifacts been preserved, while others not? They may ask, for example, why a journal from a historical period is considered by many as somehow more valid than recollections passed down through an oral tradition… both, it would seem, are modes story telling. As we unearth untold narratives, unsung heroes, and undervalued sources of evidence, students and teachers will work better to understand the legacies slavery has left.
           
Darnell Fine and Morgan Penn, my fellow teachers in this course, and I are certainly excited both about the content students will learn and the various ways students will learn it. I write this welcome to my teaching portfolio before we have begun actually teaching. In this portfolio I will be documenting my evolution as a teacher, reflecting on lessons and methods, displaying sample work, self-assessing, and generally illuminating my journey in aspiring to meet the Brown University MAT program’s Practice Based Standards.    

 

DRAFT: This module has unpublished changes.