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ResourceHQ Highlight: Facing History and Ourselves


Late US Representative John Lewis once wrote: Every generation leaves behind a legacy. What that legacy will be is determined by the people of that generation. What legacy do you want to leave behind?

At EWL, the answer to this question is access to quality education, and our approach is to develop innovative, by-educator, for-educator programs that reflect our values of curiosity, empowerment, flexibility, and utility.

Focusing on flexibility this July, we’re highlighting the program Facing History and Ourselves, which embodies flexibility in its form, function, and philosophy.


Flexibility in Form


Facing History and Ourselves exists to assist high school history teachers. The program empowers them with interesting and engaging lessons that make the past relevant to the present. However, it also provides the supplementary resources and counseling needed to ensure those lessons land effectively.


The program has the greatest impact when school administrators partner with the organization. By doing this, all grade 9-12 history teachers in a specific school or district benefit from having access to both a comprehensive curriculum and dynamic, personalized professional support.


However, individual teachers across all subject areas are also free to use the program on an as-needed basis and can access stand-alone unit plans, lesson plans, or supplementary materials.


Based on your needs, the website can function as either a database or as a virtual classroom. Representatives located in regional offices through the United States also work with some educators directly bringing a personal touch to the program.


Flexibility in Function


Boston-based educator Sandra Derstine-Desai teaches history at Tech Boston Academy High School. She says, “I had taken a very standard history class where you learn the facts, and the details, and the dates. But, you never learn the why, and you never really learn that there’s choice in history.”


After accepting her position, Derstine-Desai assumed she would be taking a traditional approach to teaching history. However, she now attributes her school’s partnership with Facing History and Ourselves to “changing the lens” through which she teaches.


According to her, this shift has been essential to motivating her students to see history not as something stuck in the past but as something that both shapes the present and holds the potential to change the future, on both a personal and global scale.


Flexibility in Philosophy


Facing History and Ourselves embraces the idea that our interpretation of history is not set in stone but rather can be constantly evolving as our understanding of humanity deepens over time.


In this sense, history isn’t closed off from any individual but rather is seen as part of a human story, of which everyone’s life is part. This way of thinking makes history relevant for everyone. It also makes it more interesting, engaging, and rewarding to teach.


At EWL, we’ve built ResourceHQ to highlight programs that do more than provide a single service or focus on a single point in time. While we recognize the tremendous value of programs that are more specific, the aim of ResourceHQ is to serve a wide variety of educators with equally varied classroom needs.


To learn more about these programs, please take a look at ResourceHQ. Meanwhile, to get started utilizing Facing History and Ourselves, check out their video about late US Representative John Lewis, whose legacy of Good Trouble we honored earlier this month.


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