History and Action DOES HISTORY HELP LEAD TO ACTION? People make choices. Choices make history. Facing History and Ourselves provides ideas, methods, and tools that support the practical needs, and the spirits, of educators worldwide who share the goal of creating a better, more informed, and more thoughtful society. https://www.facinghistory.org/ “Facing History believes that the lifeblood of democracy is the ability of every rising generation to be active, responsible decision-makers. And we believe that inspired teachers and innovative methods are the key. We work with educators around the world throughout their careers to improve their effectiveness in the classroom, as well as their students’ academic performance, historical understanding, and civic learning.” History taught in a particular way, enables transformative dialogue, fosters empathy and reflection, and improves students’ academic performance. Through rigorous investigation of the events that led to the Holocaust and other recent examples of genocide and mass violence, students in a Facing History class learn to choose knowledge over misinformation, compassion over prejudice or bullying, and participation over indifference or resignation. It’s active—rather than passive— learning. Interrogate bystanders , perpetrators, collaborators,victims, and resistors. The National Curriculum Statement Grades R12 is based on the following principles: • Social transformation: ensuring that the educational imbalances of the past are redressed, aims at developing critical thinkers sensitive to imbalances in society, and the need for social justice, in order to prepare young people to live responsible lives The NCS states that the teaching of History should explain why there are different interpretations of historical events and peoples’ actions. Linked to this is the attempt to understand why people made the choices they did at the time, demonstrating that “problem solving contexts do not exist in isolation” Historical knowledge is …carefully and critically constructed collective memory. As such it can both make us wiser in our public choices and more richly human in our private lives” William H. McNeill, author and Prof of History Emeritus at University of Chicago Individual memory shapes identity. Collective memory can be a guide for public action. This is not static. Changing perspectives of historical understanding are the very best introduction to the practical problems of real life. Thus changing interpretations help critical thinking and the interrogation of problems. Broadly three tiers of History are needed to bring some sort of order to the variety of things known. Local, National and Global. In SA, the History syllabus does have elements of all these levels, but the method of teaching children to interrogate History in terms of choices people made, is important for turning facts into events or terrain that people negotiated and made choices within, for different reasons. Understanding this will help children question their role in the future and assist their ability to make choices. Some children do not have any information to interrogate their past and understand the role their community played in History or the choices their parents made: this has possible implications for their choices in the future eg. SAHA’s project on Land, the aftermath of the 1913 Land Act and Forced Removals, led to me re-visiting 3 communities I used to work with as a Black Sash – TRAC fieldworker Mogopa Part of the gr 9 curriculum – Case study under Apartheid • Some of the key turning points in South African history, including the coming of apartheid in 1948 and nonviolent • resistance to apartheid • The Mogopa story includes various steps in the Forced removal to Pachsdraai in Bophuthatswana, decision to resist and go to paramount Chief in Bethanie in Bop, brief sojurn at Onderstepoort and final return to Mogopa land after tribal tactics and court case. Each step included splits in the tribe, different choices and debates, and the splits remain today Braklaagte Driefontein Different ways of collecting information were used • Research in archives of SAHA • Interviews with older members of the community • workshops YOUTH • I ran workshops with the youth in each community. • Asked what they knew of Land Act, Bantustans • What did they know about the removal tactics and reasons for removal or incorporation • What did they know of their community’s response to the above Photos • Photos were handed out and documents from the time. • Youth could discuss and comment on these. • Feedback was given on the above and then youth were asked what community problems they currently face • Youth were asked what their aspirations were History • 2/3 of the communities visited did not offer History in the High School. • Most Youth were singularly uninformed or misinformed about the Land Act and the Bantustans and the reasons for the forced removal or threat of incorporation into the Bantustan • Many questions were asked. Ways forward • Many of the Youth were extremely interested in the documents, photos and TRAC profiles of their community and the role played by elders against the threat of removal or incorporation • Youth expressed a renewed respect for the leaders with this knowledge • In spite of the frustrations they faced in the community in terms of unemployment , Youth expressed interest in finding a way to contribute to the future of the community to build on the sacrifice their elders had made. Tensions • In the one community, there were many tensions due to the splits forced removals had created as people made different choices in the process. • It was important for the Youth to understand why the current tensions exist due to these historical choices, before any unification can take place in the future. Overall • There was an interest and a yearning to know • An expression of wanting to play a role • Wanting to be consulted as the Youth so that they may play a role – felt frustrated at traditional roles in the village and wanted to get involved. Conclusions • Knowledge is power and the more youth are informed the better they can interrogate problems of their environment and try and be part of a solution • SA history of community struggles needs to be broken down into choices people made, and reasons interrogated to lead to realistic understanding of tensions communities face today. • Without History ( institutional memory?) in a community, relations between the youth and the elders was impoverished, and would potentially affect choices Youth made.