[VIDEO]: Why You Should Take my Philosophy of Education Course this Fall

EPE 640 is offered this fall, 2019

Graduate students and advanced undergraduates at the University of Kentucky, watch this VIDEO (4m29s) about why you should take my EPE 640 course this fall on the Philosophy of Education.

If you can’t see this video in your RSS reader or email, then click here.

Photo with students at the University of Mississippi.Advanced undergraduates, if you’d like to take this course, email the instructor at eric.t.weber@uky.edu.


Why study the Philosophy of Education?

a) Educators and leaders are expected to have a meaningful grasp of their own philosophies of education;

b) All research is rooted in frameworks of ideas that support and contextualize our work and thought, and that can clarify and help us to focus or be conflicted and confuse us if not carefully considered;

c) Everyone working in educational administration contributes to a system that functions with respect to or in conflict with underlying philosophical ideas. That calls for appreciating and always keeping in mind what we ought to be doing in education.

What you’ll get out of it / create:

Eric Thomas Weber, author of "Uniting Mississippi: Democracy and Leadership in the South" speaks at Sturgis Hall October 19, 2015. Photo Credit: Jacob Slaton

Photo Credit: Jacob Slaton

1) A short “teaching statement,” “Statement on Philosophy of Education,” or related document commonly requested in academic job applications, as well as for administrative positions that often involve teaching courses or otherwise supporting them;

2) A book review for possible publication;

3) A conference-length paper ready for submission to professional calls for papers;

4) A full-length research paper suitable for submission to journals and that could support your other projects;

John Dewey, standing.

John Dewey, concerned that you’re not yet signed up for the course.

5) An op-ed-length version of the research paper for possible submission to newspapers or educational periodicals;

6) Credits that can contribute to the Graduate Certificate in College Teaching and Learning.


When & Where?

It’ll be on Wednesdays from 11am-1:30pm in Dickey Hall rm 127.


Questions? Email me at eric.t.weber@uky.edu. You can also connect with me on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, & Academia.edu.

Understanding and Engaging in Challenging Conversations

While challenging conversations can be hard, they are not impossible, and many in this field have been working to better understand conflict and how to actually have challenging conversations. The article written by Yasmeen Wafai, called “Why Difficult Conversations Can Actually Be a Good Thing” offers several groups working to understand this phenomenon and mentions the work of NCDD member organization National Issues Forums Institute and The Difficult Conversations Lab founded by Peter Coleman. Below you can read the NIFI’s blog post with excerpts of the article (which can be found here) and we encourage you to read the original article here.

Read the Article in “YES! Magazine” – “Why Difficult Conversations Can Actually Be a Good Thing” by Yasmeen Wafai

A July 10, 2019 article in YES! Magazine, by Yasmeen Wafai, describes several examples of methods to help people talk productively about difficult public issues, including The Difficult Conversations Lab founded by Peter Coleman, and the National Issues Forums.

The following are excerpts from the article:

The Difficult Conversations Lab was founded in the early 2000s by Peter Coleman, a professor of psychology and education at Columbia University. He said the lab was created to study deeply rooted, complicated, and hard-to-solve conflicts. He wanted to understand why conflicts in families, communities, and in the international arena get stuck in a destructive pattern…

Contrary to expectation, these conversations do not always go sour and are sometimes constructive, Coleman said. It is not that participants are solving the issues themselves, but they are creating the space to learn something about themselves, the issue, and other viewpoints…

However, Coleman cautions that discussing deeply polarizing issues can backfire. Instead, he suggests finding a group or organization like the National Issues Forums, which are designed to bring people together in a safe space to have wide-ranging, moderated discussions….

Click here to read the full article.

You can find this announcement on the National Issues Forums Institute blog at www.nifi.org/en/read-article-yes-magazine-why-difficult-conversations-can-actually-be-good-thing-yasmeen-wafai.

trying to keep myself honest

(Madrid) This summer–which is not over yet–has already been full of rich and challenging discussions for which I am grateful.

In June, I spent several days discussing some lesser-known works of Friedrich Hayek with a group of mostly classical liberals/libertarians.

In late June and early July, more than 160 experienced scholars, practitioners, and activists from many countries visited Tisch College for a series of linked events: the American Political Science Association’s Institute for Civically Engaged Research, a convening of city staff from 15 Cities of Service, a gathering of Bridge Alliance members, the eleventh annual Summer Institute of Civic Studies, Lead for America’s summer institute, and the Frontiers of Democracy Conference. These people certainly held diverse ideological views, but a strong voice came from participants whom I would associate with intersectional movement politics–people who favor bottom-up, extra-institutional movements to confront white supremacy, patriarchy, and related “-isms.”

And now I am in Madrid for the Ibero-American Meeting on Civic Studies. I am very much enjoying my academic colleagues from Argentina, Colombia, Ecuador, Guatemala, Mexico, Spain and Venezuela who hold diverse views. While here, I have also visited a traditionally “red” working class Madrid neighborhood and met with radical Spanish architects and have heard a senator from the PSOE (socialist) party lecture. They have given me a dose of European social democratic politics. In contrast to intersectional movement politics, this is largely about building mass institutions (unions and parties) for “the people,” understood as singular.

I remain basically an American center-leftist. Barack Obama is my favorite president and have sent a little money to Kamala Harris. But since I fear intellectual complacency and clichés, I am always grateful to have my presumptions challenged. Libertarianism, intersectional movement politics, and social democracy feel like a triangle of ideas that keep me (somewhat) honest from three directions.

I think I hear the classical liberals saying, “Society is too complex to be modeled, let alone regulated or planned, because it is a function of countless individual choices, and the millions of agents can react to any effort to constrain or guide them by changing their behavior. Opportunity costs are ubiquitous and especially difficult to measure. Talk of ‘social justice’ arrogantly replaces what individuals want in their own circumstances with a specific theory of what they should want and implies that someone has the right to enforce that. Instead, policy should be maximally general, durable, and predictable so that individuals can form and implement their own plans in their contexts.”

I think I hear intersectional activists saying, “People are dying as a result of racism and transphobia and sexual violence. That is because other people hold deeply seated world-views that categorize their fellow human beings into hierarchies and create boundaries. These world-views are fundamental causes of injustice and must be challenged. There is no substitute for the people at the top of the hierarchies [people like me] acknowledging their advantages and changing their own lives accordingly.”

And I think I hear the social democrats say, “When large numbers of ordinary people have organized themselves into unions, parties, and social movements, they have countered corporate capital and negotiated mixed economies that have generated equity and security along with prosperity. But such organizations require substantial discipline (constraining individual choice) and broad identities, such as ‘worker’ or ‘citizen.'”

See also: on hedgehogs and foxes; The truth in Hayek; identities, interests, and opinions

The Sharing Society’s Vibrant Forum for Studying Cooperation

While there are many ways that academics now study commoning, few show the broad-minded enthusiasm, scholarly engagement, and political awareness that I encountered at the Sharing Society’s international conference in Bilbao, Spain. 

The May 23-24 event brought together a wide variety of international scholars, practitioners and activists who care about cooperation in its many permutations – commons, open source software, care work, citizen-science, makerspaces, urban collaborations, and many other forms.

There was no privileged discourse or correct point of view at this conference – just a fantastic mix of explorers trying to understand “the characteristics, trajectory and impact of collaborative collective actions.” The focus was on social phenomena in Europe and North America, especially as affected by today’s political economy, but the event ventured into such unexpected zones as refugee resettlement, the circular economy in fashion, and participatory governance in a Cairo neighborhood. Wow!

The Sharing Society project has an impressive research team drawing from six Spanish universities and eight foreign academics institutions (Argentina, Canada, Chile, Italy, Mexico, Portugal, Turkey, and the UK). Directed by sociology professor Benjamín Tejerina, a scholar of collective identity, the project is based at the University of the Basque Country and funded by the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness (!). 

In recent weeks, the Sharing Society has set about launching a new network to continue the cross-disciplinary international dialogues. It’s too early to know how that venture will unfold, but it promises to be a good space for cross-sectoral discussion, alerts about upcoming conferences and publications, and a repository of literature. 

You can find more about the Sharing Society at its website, and a wealth of literature generated by its prior events here. If you want to sample some of the great papers submitted to the event, a 688-page volume of conference proceedings containing dozens of papers can be accessed here. It was edited by Professors Tejerina, Cristina Miranda de Almedia and Ignacia Perugorría.

I was pleased to encounter this fledgling forum and network because I think academics and activists generally don’t mix it up enough. So it was refreshing to move into this welcoming space for open minds and methodologies to study cooperation in its many varieties. We all need serious academic studies that burrow into the hidden experiences of practitioners while avoiding the perils of ivory-tower theories. And commoners, for their part, often need to take a broader, more rigorous perspective on their own work. History, political economy, and social theory can be very helpful.

A series of eight keynote speakers gave some wonderful presentations.  You can watch each of the talks in streaming video here.

Greek scholar Manuela Zechner spoke about “caring, sharing and commoning,” offering a fascinating taxonomy of different types of care. There is “caring about” and “taking care of,” which are typically gender-biased toward men – and there is “care-giving and “care-receiving,” which are typically left to the less powerful. She also noted that we can distinguish care as a disposition and care as a practice. 

The problem with care, said Zechner, is that we find it difficult to acknowledge that we need care and that we are dependent. That is why setting up circuits of care that can mature into a commons can be so difficult. After all, the default norm in market culture is simply to outsource care via paid labor. A key challenge in contemporary society, therefore, is “how to instantiate and sustain relations of care,” Zechner said.

Italian design expert Ezio Manzini echoed some of these ideas in his talk, which focused on building urban spaces and a regenerative circular economy on the basis of care. These topics are elaborated in Manzini’s latest book The Politics of the Everyday, which discusses how city-making, social innovation, and design are all interconnected.

Internet scholar Mayo Fuster Morrell, Director of Dimmons Research Group in Catalonia, described the policy void that exists in thinking about the collaborative economy in holistic terms, and the failure of government to adequate assess the sustainability of existing models (such as Airbnb and Uber) and the alternatives that deserve greater attention.  

Italian scholar Derrick de Kerckhove spoke about “the rise of collaborative investigative journalism” as seen in the collaboration of 370 journalists and their respective news organizations in making sense of the so-called Panama Papers, a huge cache of documents detailing transnational tax avoidance and corruption. 

My colleague Stacco Troncoso of the P2P Foundation described a new type of “distributed cooperative,” or DisCO, that is a “locally grounded, transnationally networked cooperative focused on social and environmental work.” DisCOs are a counterpoint to the anarcho-capitalist structures known as DAOs, or “Decentralized Autonomous Organizations” that attempt to use blockchain software (of Bitcoin fame) to create "trustless" online groups based on algorithms and "smart contracts." DisCos also use the blockchain, but are instead designed as “commons-oriented open cooperative governance” models. One example is Guerrilla Translation, the Spain-based translation cooperative that Troncoso works with.

In my talk on “the commons as a living social system,” I described the new framework for understanding the commons that I developed with Silke Helfrich in our forthcoming book, Free, Fair and Alive. You can watch the video here, but otherwise, more on that topic in a future post.

reclaiming our kids’ walk to school

(Madrid) In June, I was with an international group, and we were lamenting that no one from any of our respective countries seems very comfortable allowing their children to walk alone to school. We all walked to school when we were kids, even though the crime rate–at least in the US–was much higher then. It seems as if parents raised in the mid-1900s let their late-1900s children walk around dangerous cities, but we are too nervous to let our early-2000s offspring do the same.

Now I am in the very dynamic and impressive MediaLab Prado, a “citizen laboratory that functions as a meeting place for the production of open cultural projects.” And I have just encountered Camino Escola Seguro, A Safe Path to School. In part, it involves knitted safety notices that assure families that local shopkeepers and residents are keeping their eyes on the streets and making them safe for children to walk to school.

I’m not saying this would work everywhere. Maybe it won’t work at all. But I love the spirit of people reclaiming the common resource of a safe walk to school.

Essential Partners Awarded Grant for Community-Police Dialogue Series

We are pleased to share that NCDD sponsor org Essential Partners has recently been awarded a $25,000 grant to support community-police dialogues in the Raleigh-Durham area. The award supports a two-year long dialogue series between communities of color and law enforcement, stemming from an earlier dialogue series pilot. You can read the press release below and find the original version on the EP site here.

PRESS RELEASE: Essential Partners Receives $25,000 Grant for Police / Community Dialogues in Raleigh-Durham

Raleigh, NC – Essential Partners (EP) has been awarded a two-year, $25,000 grant from the American Arbitration Association-International Centre for Dispute Resolution Foundation (AAA-ICDR Foundation) to support dialogues between law enforcement and communities of color in the Raleigh-Durham area.

Essential Partners will train twenty dialogue facilitators based in the local community and equip them with guides to support resident engagement and crisis response. EP will also provide coaching and consultation to support new police-community dialogues in the Raleigh-Durham area, with the goal of involving as many as 500 residents and officers.

Kate Deiter-Maradei, a mediator based in Raleigh, has led this project working with a coalition of area residents and law enforcement officers in collaboration with Essential Partners since 2016, when she first reached out to EP for support.

Essential Partners has since trained 22 local facilitators who engaged residents and officers through a pilot dialogue series.

One participant in that pilot dialogue series said: “As a black mother, I participated because I want to save my son from harm, and I feared for our safety. I no longer have that fear—just a belief that my community is stronger and there are honest police officers who care about me and my son.”

The police officers involved in the pilot dialogues spoke of forging new connections with citizens. They said these EP-designed public dialogues supported stronger community relationships in a new way.

“Kate and her amazing crew of volunteer facilitators are some of the most dedicated and courageous folks I have ever had the honor of working with,” said John Sarrouf, Essential Partners co-Executive Director.

For thirty years, Essential Partners has helped communities address polarized conflicts driven by differences in values, views, and identities. Headquartered in Cambridge, MA, the nonprofit organization works around the globe on issues such as the Syrian refugee crisis, violent extremism, campus free speech, and abortion.

Established in 2015, The American Arbitration Association-International Centre for Dispute Resolution Foundation funds domestic and international projects. Its goal is to expand the use of alternative dispute resolution (ADR), improving the process, increasing access to ADR for those who cannot afford it, and sharing knowledge across different cultures.

Press Contact
Daniel Evans Pritchard
Essential Partners
617-923-1216, x 24

You can find the original version of this press release on the Essential Partners’ blog at www.whatisessential.org/blog/press-release-essential-partners-receives-25000-grant-police-community-dialogues-raleigh-durham.

Register Now for the 2019 Florida Council for the Social Studies Annual Conference!

Heroes and Villains. Social Studies is FILLED with heroes and villains, rogues and legends, great deeds both big and small, and oh so much controversy!


So let’s learn about and talk about it! Let’s see what we can share about heroes and villains, and teaching difficult issues in difficult times! This year’s Florida Council for the Social Studies annual conference, Heroes and Villains: Teaching in a Polarized World, would LOVE to have you join us October 18-20, 2019 here in Orlando. It will be an excellent opportunity to network and learn and grow together, and explore issues and topics that meet a variety of interests and needs. We will be sending out invitations to presenters soon, and we cannot wait to let you know who will be joining us and what we will be exploring. Come, be a hero, fight those villains, and connect with other social studies educators from across the state of Florida! You can register for the conference here! 

What is the appropriate role for higher education at a time of social activism?

(Posted in Madrid) In the current issue (and available free online) is my article entitled, “Another Time for Freedom? Lessons from the Civil Rights Era for Today’s Campuses,” Liberal Education, Winter 2019, Vol. 105, No. 1.

This is the first of several pending articles in which I explore the interactions between social movements and institutions. My motive is to encourage people who sit in institutional settings to pay attention not only to activists who make demands but also to the movements to which these activists belong. In order to relate appropriately to a given movement, it’s important to assess whether it has robust internal discussions, whether it is a space for learning, how it develops leaders, what norms it enforces on its members, and other such characteristics. Interpreting a movement is valuable whether you want to be a good ally, merely treat the movement fairly, or actively counter it because you oppose its influence.

In this piece, I use as a hook a fascinating New York Times op-ed by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., in which he described the movement that had engulfed Historically Black Colleges and Universities by 1961. A sample passage from my article:

In the model of civic action that King describes, college students plug into national social movements that have leaders and organizations outside higher education. The students’ involvement is youth-driven: students recruit other students to participate. …

Like most participants in social movements, the students King describes in the Times essay have transformational goals. They do not aim to modify the policies and practices of existing institutions—such as their own colleges—but to rebuild or reconstitute the whole society. Student activists, King writes, are “seeking to save the soul of America. . . . One day historians will record this student movement as one of the most significant epics of our heritage.” Today, movements like Black Lives Matter and climate activism do not merely advocate specific policies but attempt to fundamentally transform society, from white supremacy to racial equity, or from carbon-dependence to global sustainability.

By contrast, colleges and universities—including the HBCUs of 1961—are institutions. As such, they are inevitably led by people who have extensive experience, who must therefore be older. Institutions can encourage youth voice and can change as a result of social movements. For instance, a range of curricular and policy reforms that promote greater racial equity and diversity can be traced back to the civil rights movement. But institutions will predictably resist more radical transformations. They are not movements; they are targets of movements.

The tension between movements and institutions is inevitable, but higher education has a particular commitment to ideological pluralism and debate. Although pure neutrality is impossible and a misleading ideal, colleges and universities must demonstrate a reasonable degree of impartiality about the contested issues of the day. As academic institutions, they value reflection and “organized skepticism.”11

When today’s colleges and universities go beyond classroom teaching to offer experiential civic education, a typical model involves supporting students to choose and define their own issues and to develop and implement plans of action—not signing them up for specific social movements that will demand sacrifice. Often, an institution’s recruitment takes the form of a general invitation to civic engagement, civic learning, or dialogue, not a call to join a movement.

See also: pay attention to movements, not just activists and events; the value of diversity and discussion within social movements; social movements of the sixties, seventies, and today; a sketch of a theory of social movements

Upcoming D&D Webinars & Ben Franklin Circles Course

An important skill to have in the work of dialogue and deliberation is the ability to have challenging conversations and stay with the tension. Our wonderful NCDD sponsor org The Courageous Leadership Project, has a free webinar in just a few hours to help build this skill – register ASAP to join! We encourage you to check out these webinars from NCDD member organizations MetroQuestLiving Room Conversations, and National Issues Forums Institute (NIFI). Finally, in case you missed it, Ben Franklin Circles is starting a free 6-session online course on beginning and sustaining a Ben Franklin Circle process. Register by July 19th to participate!

NCDD’s online D&D event roundup is a weekly compilation of the upcoming events happening in the digital world related to dialogue, deliberation, civic tech, engagement work, and more! Do you have a webinar or other digital event coming up that you’d like to share with the NCDD network? Please let us know in the comments section below or by emailing me at keiva[at]ncdd[dot]org, because we’d love to add it to the list!

Upcoming Online D&D Events: The Courageous Leadership Project, MetroQuest, Living Room Conversations, NIFI, IAP2, Tamarack Institute

The Courageous Leadership Project webinar – Brave, Honest Conversations™

Wednesday, June 10th
9 am Pacific, 12 pm Eastern

Some conversations are hard to have. Fear and discomfort build in your body and you avoid and procrastinate or pretend everything is fine. Sometimes you rush in with urgency, wanting to smooth things over, fix them, and make them better. Sometimes you go to battle stations, positioning the conversation so you have a higher chance of being on the “winning” side. NONE OF THIS WORKS. Instead, it usually makes a hard conversation harder; more divided, polarized, and disconnected from others. The more people involved, the harder the conversation can be. I believe that brave, honest conversations are how we solve the problems we face in our world – together.

In this webinar, we will cover: What is a Brave, Honest Conversation™? Why have one? What can change because of a brave, honest conversation? How do you have one? What do you need to think about and do? How do you prepare yourself for a brave, honest conversation?

REGISTER: www.bravelylead.com/events/bhcfreewebinar

Living Room Conversations Training (free): The Nuts & Bolts of Living Room Conversations

Thursday, July 11th
2 pm Pacific, 5 pm Eastern

Join us for 90 minutes online to learn about Living Room Conversations. We’ll cover what a Living Room Conversation is, why we have them, and everything you need to know to get started hosting and/or participating in Living Room Conversations. This training is not required for participating in our conversations – we simply offer it for people who want to learn more about the Living Room Conversations practice.

Space is limited so that we can offer a more interactive experience. Please only RSVP if you are 100% certain that you can attend. This training will take place using Zoom video conferencing. A link to join the conversation will be sent to participants the day before the training.

REGISTER: www.livingroomconversations.org/event/training-free-the-nuts-bolts-of-living-room-conversations-13/

Online Living Room Conversation: Digital Dialogue – 90-Minute Conversation w/ Optional 30-Minute Bonus Round!

Thursday, July 11th
4 pm Pacific, 7 pm Eastern

We are in an age of wonder and amazement with technology. It can go anywhere with us and we can be reachable at any time. We use technology to order our groceries, navigate our cities, keep up with breaking news, family members living away and in some cases remain connected to our politicians and faith-based communities. So many of us are reachable and can respond immediately to beeping, buzzing, and ringing of texts, emails and phone calls. We like what we feel when our phones ring or ping us with a new message and that makes us want more. Some experts have suggested that technology is controlling us, that we have lost control of it…like an addiction. Is technology our friend, the life-saving tool of the 21st Century or a manipulator of our minds and master of our time? Who is in charge? Hereis the conversation guide.

REGISTER: www.livingroomconversations.org/event/tribalism-101-90-minute-conversation-w-optional-30-minute-bonus-round/

SPECIAL Online Living Room Conversation: Race and Ethnicity Conversation Series

Tuesday, July 16th
10 am Pacific, 1 pm Eastern

Please join us for a 3-conversation series on Race & Ethnicity taking place over the course of three weeks (July 16, 23, & 30, 2:00 – 3:30pm ET / 11:00 am – 12:30 pm PT). Check out this four-minute video from a previous Race & Ethnicity Conversation Series to get a taste of this conversation! In this series of three in-depth conversations, participants explore the complexities of the concepts of Race, Ethnicity, and their impacts on people from all walks of life. We will cover new questions from the three Race & Ethnicity conversation guides found here.

REGISTER: https://www.livingroomconversations.org/event/special-online-living-room-conversation-race-and-ethnicity-conversation-series-2/

MetroQuest webinar – Beyond Fear: Public Views on Emerging Transportation Technologies

Wednesday, July 17th
11 am Pacific | 12 pm Mountain | 1 pm Central | 2 pm Eastern (1 hour)
Educational Credit Available (APA AICP CM)
Complimentary (FREE)

Technologies are transforming the future of transportation, but are your residents ready for innovations like self-driving vehicles? It’s time to go beyond the hype and fears by uncovering true public priorities. Join NCDOT on July 17th as its forward-thinking team reveals what 10,000+ residents in North Carolina want for the future of their transportation system.

Jamille, Nastasha, and Colin will share the input they captured online. Should tax credits or infrastructure be prioritized to support an electric vehicle boom and achieve zero emissions? Are citizens more concerned with tech failures causing accidents or ensuring equitable access to mobililty innovations? Effective public engagement was critical to getting answers.

REGISTER: http://go.metroquest.com/NCDOT-Beyond-Fear-Public-Views-on-Emerging-Transportation-Technologies.html

July CGA Forum Series: Shaping Our Future

Wednesday, July 17th
5 pm Pacific, 8 pm Eastern

Please join us for a Common Ground for Action (CGA) online deliberative forum on Wednesday July 17th @ 8pm ET/5p PT on ” Shaping Our Future: How Should Higher Education Help Us Create the Society We Want?”

Please join us for a Common Ground for Action (CGA) online deliberative forum on Saturday July 6th at 6pm ET/3p PT on the issue of “Coming to America: Who Should We Welcome? What Should We Do?” If you haven’t had a chance to review the issue guide, you can find a downloadable PDF copy at the NIF website: https://www.nifi.org/es/issue-guide/coming-america

REGISTER: www.nifi.org/en/events/june-cga-forum-series-climate-choices-how-should-we-meet-challenges-warming-planet

Online Living Room Conversation: Relationships First – 90-Minute Conversation w/ Optional 30-Minute Q & A with Hosts!

Thursday, July 18th
4 pm Pacific, 7 pm Eastern

How we treat each other is the difference between a great place to live and a bad place to live. We shape our world through relationships. Most people agree we want communities where all people have dignity and respect. Yet respectful interactions are often not what we see modeled in the media and in politics. And far too many people feel disrespected in their lives. What is our role in these dynamics? Here is the conversation guide.

REGISTER: www.livingroomconversations.org/event/relationships-first-90-minute-conversation-w-optional-30-minute-bonus-round/

Teaching the Holocaust in Florida…and Everywhere Else


You may have recently seen news reports about a principal in the Palm Beach area who suggested that because there were those that question the Holocaust, he had to be ‘neutral’ in any instruction or approach to learning about the Holocaust.  This principal has since been reassigned and the district has recommitted itself to improving instruction on the Holocaust, as mandated by Florida statute. 

Senator Marco Rubio plans on introducing the ‘Never Again Act’ which will “help states obtain resources from the U.S. Department of Education to teach students about the Holocaust.” This can only be a good thing. But it also reflects the position of both the Florida Council for the Social Studies and the National Council for the Social Studies that more and better resources must be provided to ensure adequate instruction about the Holocaust. Last year, the Florida Council submitted to NCSS the following resolution, intended to prevent errors in judgement as seen in Palm Beach:

Resolution # 18-03-1
Advocating Improved Holocaust Education and the Provision of Necessary Resources
Sponsor: Florida Council for the Social Studies

Co-Sponsors: Colorado Council for the Social Studies, Connecticut Council for the Social Studies, Wisconsin Council for the Social Studies, Human Rights Education Community

Rationale: Recent events in Florida, Virginia, and elsewhere in the United States have raised questions about the ways in which we as educators approach and teach the events of the Holocaust.1
As of 2017, only eight states mandate instruction on the Holocaust, and increasingly we as citizens and educators are losing access to those survivors and eyewitnesses, living primary sources who can serve as resources for education and remembrance.2
Research suggests that in some cases, when it is taught, the approach often focuses on shock value and shallow interpretations rather than roots and policies. At the
same time, the Holocaust is often approached as a “controversial issue” that requires “balance.”3
As social studies educators, we have an obligation to understand what we are teaching to
confront the facts of events like the Holocaust. Educators must be knowledgeable, understand the purpose and function of Holocaust education, and use age-appropriate materials to ensure that students gain a comprehensive understanding of
this dark time in world history.4

WHEREAS: anti-Semitic acts of violence are on the rise in the United States, reaching nearly 2,000 unique events in 2017, according to the Anti-Defamation League 5; and

WHEREAS: in contradiction to the limited state policies that do exist, some district and school administrations throughout the country have suggested that educators approach the Holocaust as a “controversial issue” that requires “balance,” while general knowledge about the Holocaust continues to decline; and

WHEREAS: a number of excellent, proven, and grade level appropriate resources exist for teaching about the Holocaust; and

WHEREAS: the National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS) has an obligation to support accurate quality instruction and to support members in the field;

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED: that NCSS support the teaching of the Holocaust as an absolute fact without mitigating circumstances that require a consideration of “balance”; establish a clearinghouse of resources and instructional tools on socialstudies.org that can be used to teach about the Holocaust; support professional development opportunities that will improve teacher understanding of the Holocaust; and support a 50-state effort to mandate quality K-12 Holocaust education.

1. Colleen Wright and Marlene Sokol, “What Teachers Can and Can’t Say. Did a
Citrus County Educator’s Podcast Cross the Line?” Tampa Bay Times (March
6 2018), http://www.tampabay.com/news/education/k12/What-teachers-can-and-can-tsay-Did-a-Citrus-County-educator-s-podcast-cross-the-line-_166092840 and Emma
Green, “Why the Charlottesville Marchers Were Obsessed with Jews,” The
Atlantic (August 15, 2017), http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2017/08/nazisracism-charlottesville/536928/
2. New Campaign Seeks to Mandate Holocaust Education in all 50 States, www.
3. Louis Llovio, “Teaching the Complexities of the Holocaust a Challenge for
Teachers,” Richmond Times-Dispatch (Oct. 25, 2015), http://www.richmond.com/news/
local/education/city-of-richmond/teaching-the-complexities-of-the- holocaust-achallenge-for-teachers/article_83ad4ee0-a0b9-5646-a644-6e7abfd37f08.html;
Aleksander Kwasniewski, “On Holocaust Education” Opinion, The New York
Times (June 28, 2010), http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/29/opinion/29iht-edcounter.
html and Maggie Astor, “Holocaust Is Fading From Memory, Survey Finds,”
The New York Times (April 12, 2018), http://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/12/us/
4. D. Lindquist, “A Necessary Holocaust Pedagogy: Teaching the Teachers,” Issues
in Teacher Education 16, no. 1 (2007): 21–36. https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/
5. 2017 Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents, http://www.adl.org/resources/reports/2017-auditof-anti-semitic-incidents

As the resolution suggests, social studies teachers in Florida are dedicated to teaching the Holocaust as it deserves to be taught, and we must be clear that this is not an issue that requires ‘balance’ in instruction. Rather, it is an evil to which we say “Never Again”, and that “Never Again” can only be achieved through proper instruction, preparation, and resources, both in Florida and nationwide.