Some schools are choosing to teach a new type of social studies class. Normally students aren’t very excited about social studies and feel it’s just a bunch of memorizing dates and famous historical faces.

A New Type of Social Studies ClassBut the Eugene School district is doing things a bit differently. They are taking a introspective approach and looking to the past to study the present.

Superintendent Sheldon Berman said the district has provided training and textbooks for teachers who want to use an internationally known social studies curriculum called Facing History and Ourselves.

The point of the curriculum, Berman said, is for students to examine how and why injustices and human rights abuses happen throughout history and how democracies can crumble to totalitarian regimes — such as in Nazi Germany — when people don’t speak up.

“Young people get very engaged in social and ethical questions,” Berman said of the curriculum. “Students are asking profound questions like, ‘Why do things like (the Holocaust) happen in our world?’ The goal is to have young people become more engaged and see themselves as responsible citizens.”

Teachers, administrators and two Eugene School Board members will attend a workshop today at the University of Oregon Knight Law Center to help educators learn how to incorporate lessons about genocide and mass killings into their classrooms.

The workshop will feature Hugo Slim, an internationally known humanitarian ethics expert from the University of Oxford in England.

Slim will talk about ways to teach students about why genocide or mass killings happen, and what people can do to prevent future atrocities, said Laura Johnson, project coordinator for the UO’s Savage Committee for International Relations & Peace.

Slim also will give a public talk on human rights and humanitarian aid at the Knight Law School on Wednesday.

Berman said the district will use today’s workshop to build on its new social studies curriculum.

The Massachusetts-based nonprofit Facing History and Ourselves was founded in 1976 and is used by more than 31,600 educators in classrooms around the world to examine racism, prejudice and anti­-Semitism.

Continue reading Curriculum looks at injustice.

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A New Type of Social Studies Class