If you looked at news headlines from the last couple of years and concluded that racism and intolerance were growing within our country, you would be correct, according to The Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University. Following a review of their data, the Center’s researchers concluded that the total number of hate crimes in the 10 largest cities in America has increased annually for the past four years.
We believe teachers and school administrators across the country are uniquely positioned to help stem the wave of racism, intolerance and violence that threatens our nation. To empower educators to counter hate, USC Shoah Foundation is providing educators nationwide the digital curriculum and long-term strategies they need to help students of all ages to explore identity and difference and ultimately conquer intolerance.
Arkansas library media specialist and English teacher Karen Wells recently shared, “It seems as if now, more than ever in my teaching career, I am searching for trusted resources to help my students cope with the hate that often surrounds them in the media, in their personal lives, and even in the classroom. Ultimately, how do we offer support as we encourage our students to move from an existence of passive indifference to a life of service that will, in turn, inspire others to take-action?”
One outcomes-based method to combat intolerance we’ve developed at USC Shoah Foundation creates empathy and understanding by integrating digital resources that include eye-witness testimony from survivors of genocide into the classroom instruction. First-hand recollections provide a unique view of some of the darkest times in history and connect the past to the present. Students observe the emotion on individuals’ faces, encounter a deeply personal perspective, and experience a powerful way to learn about the human cost of intolerance, hatred and indifference.
This testimony is combined with core elements of theory, outcomes and localization to harness the universal tool of “story” and engage students in authentic and powerful learning experiences. This method is also designed to deliver clear learning experiences that can be assessed and designed to help us measure effectiveness and link to outcomes including knowledge, trans-literacy skills, critical thinking, empathy and a motivation to act — identified specifically as necessary elements of responsible participation.
If you are inspired to recognize and examine hate in your school or community AND take action to stop it through testimony-based teaching, USC Shoah Foundation and Discovery Education invite you to join us in the new Stronger Than Hate Challenge. Through the challenge, students will listen to eye witness testimonies that explore historical and modern-day stories of hate, investigate if similar acts of hate are occurring in their school or community, develop insight into the opportunities for change, and build a video essay telling the story of how they made their community and our world a better place.
Available to middle and high school students in the US, Canada and the UK, the curriculum also connects to educational standards and may help meet requirements or recommendations in Holocaust and genocide teaching. In addition, Stronger Than Hate Challenge winners are eligible to receive scholarships and grants totaling $10,000.
If you are ready to tackle the rising tide of intolerance facing our nation beginning in your classroom, I encourage you to do two things. First, visit, TeachingwithTestimony.com to access USC Shoah Foundation and Discovery Education’s unique digital curriculum, then encourage your students to participate in the Stronger Than Hate Challenge at TeachingwithTestimony.com/Challenge. Our nation cannot afford one more minute, let alone another year, of intolerance, hate or violence.