Ninth Graders Explore the Greater Historical Impact of Individual Choices in Interdisciplinary Facing History Program

On Wednesday, May 22, our Ninth Grade soon-to-be graduates presented their Facing History projects to an audience of family, faculty and staff.
Beginning in the fall and running through the entirety of this year, our oldest students participated in an interdisciplinary program of study called Facing History & Ourselves. The boys examined the different ways in which individuals act as bystanders, upstanders, victims, and perpetrators when faced with ethical dilemmas. The Facing History project encourages our educators and students to delve into social issues and ethical questions surrounding how individuals should respond to oppression.

The boys used the Holocaust as a case study to examine what it means to be a participant in a democracy and how the Holocaust, and history as a whole, is the product of many small, individual choices. Through readings, films, role-playing, discussions, guest speakers and trips, the boys explored issues of identity, human behavior, the events leading up to and surrounding the Holocaust. The boys examined these individual choices and their subsequent effect on history and social justice.
After their study of the Holocaust, the boys researched contemporary examples of social injustice through a Facing History paradigm, examining the actions taken by bystanders, upstanders, victims, and perpetrators in the conflicts.
Each ninth grader selects an ethical issue to explore through research and art as the culmination of this unit. At the formal presentation to faculty, staff and guests last week, the boys described their ethical issue and showcased the pieces of art they’ve created to support their topic. Questions are posed to the boys and meaningful feedback is provided.
This year’s topics and ethical questions addressed:

  • Duke Garschina discussed the United States government’s unethical supply of weapons to Saudi Arabia for use in the humanitarian crisis that is the Yemen Civil War.
  • Henry Adkins discussed the humanitarian crisis in Venezuela and how the actions of normal humans like us have had a profound impact on the situation.

  • Alexander von Maltzahn discussed the 2011 revolution in Egypt, outlining the persecution that the general public faces due to a corrupt government.

  • Ayoub Moussaddek discussed the persecution of the Uyghur population in China and how bystanders can become upstanders by attending rallies or using social media to spread the message.

  • Austin Baxter discussed the Rohingya Muslim genocide in Myanmar and highlighted how the United States and other countries have not stepped up to prevent these atrocities.
To complete their study, the boys travel to Washington, D.C. for a three-day trip to visit various historic monuments and museums in our Nation’s Capital.
Thank you to History Teacher Kim Sklow; English Teacher Aidan Fennelly; Art Teachers Julia Kunin, Alex Exposito, Rob McCallum, and Tara Parsons; Upper School Head Steven Cohen; and Assistant Upper School Head JP Jacquet for helping to guide this year’s group through Facing History.

Allen-Stevenson’s distinctive “enlightened traditional” approach educates boys to become scholars and gentlemen.