I've been thinking a lot about the purpose of teaching. More than normal anyway. Perhaps sparked by the beginning of the new semester and embarking on yet another round of thinking, reading, and talking about the Holocaust. My usual trifecta of literature exploring this mark on humanity (NIGHT, MAUS, THE ASSAULT) is prefaced by asking the question: what is human nature? In this exploration of our humanity we see just how horrifyingly bad humans can act.
It begs the question, what does it take to learn from our mistakes, and ask ourselves if we as individuals have the moral courage to step up for what's right. I relate the story of Sophie Scholl and the White Rose to my students, as one example of this courage. It is certainly a story that has inspired me.
I think also of a recent podcast from Ezra Klein about the philosophical writings of Martin Luther King, Jr. that are often ignored or conveniently forgotten.
In the random horror that is on display in our studies of the Holocaust I hope to use my Smash Journal assignment to get my students thinking deeply about their own identities and the values that they hold. And perhaps reflect a bit on their own abilities to stand up for what's right in a world that so often is a barrage of stimuli seemingly made to make us complacent, or deaf, to the suffering of others.
For over 12 Years I wrote the Reno Rambler Blog covering everything from Bicycle Advocacy, Reno Politics, Popular Culture, and my experiences as a long-time cyclist.