Addressing Injustices
Addressing Injustices
Addressing Injustices brings together teachers and youth to read, write, make art, and change the world.

After Night

In 2013 in Toronto, Canada, teenagers from a Catholic youth leadership group and teacher candidates from the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE) at the University of Toronto came together with Dr. Rob Simon and his research team to investigate what happens when young people and educators engage in collective art-making in response to the novel Night by Nobel laureate, Elie Wiesel (1960). The 25-minute documentary film After Night (2014) tells the touching story of this research project from the perspectives of the people involved in it, and makes a case for the value of drawing on multiliteracies in classrooms, art-making as a form of inquiry and curriculum-development, and also for art itself, as curriculum.

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What We Did

In Night, Wiesel recounts his experience of surviving the Auschwitz and Buchenwald concentration camps during World War II. In response to Night, students and teacher candidates collaborated to produce art works, which included triangles painted on book pages in colors and patterns they chose to represent their visions of diversity and solidarity with victims of intolerance. The youth, teachers, and researchers put together an exhibition of their paintings for public viewing at Hart House, University of Toronto.

What it Looked Like: Project-Making

Virtual Tour — After Night: The Exhibition
Hart House, University of Toronto Photo Credits: Laura Darcy, 2013

“In The Swell of Wandering Words”: The Arts as a Vehicle for Adolescents'and Educators' Inquiries into the Holocaust MemoiR NIGHT

Youth and teachers performed a presentation about the After Night project at the Communities of Inquiry Symposium at the Ethnography in Education Research Forum, March 1, 2014. The event invited audience members to imagine the relationship of the arts, multimodality, research, and critical pedagogy, through an evocation of a community of adolescents’ and teachers’ arts-based inquiries into the Holocaust memoir Night by Elie Wiesel (2006).

Panelists: Rob Simon, Anna Pisecny, Jason Brennan, Will Edwards, Amir Kalan, Ashley Bailey, Emily McInnes-Greenberg, Catherine Fujiwara, Kevin Clarke, Julia Kruja, Antonino Calarco

Discussants: Susan L. Lytle, University of Pennsylvania & Vivian Vasquez, American University

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What Participants Said

“The experience I had doing this project was astounding. Looking at history helps us, as a society, to ensure our wrongdoings are not repeated. Writing a letter [to Elie Wiesel], making triangles, and even reading Night were all small ways of exploring the past to learn for the future.” - Youth Participant Researcher

“How strange that we would rip up a book and cover its words to honour the dead in its pages. Strange that the words we chose were not even in the same language as the text. But when I saw it hanging with the other canvasses—even though I was a part of its creation—I was moved.” - Teacher Candidate, OISE — University of Toronto

“I was so shocked that teachers were being so kind and really connecting to me in a personal way, and I think that the arts-based approach really had a lot to do with that.” - Youth Participant Researcher

”I gained so much from taking part in this project; growing intellectually, spiritually, and emotionally. I especially feel that I was able to connect with the novel on another level through the art project.” - Youth Participant Researcher

Lesson Plans





Download a lesson plan to invite students to explore the Holocaust through colour and shape, like After Night [PDF]

Simon, R., Bailey, A., Brennan, J., Calarco, A., Clarke, K., Edwards, W., Fujiwara, C., Kalan, A., Kruja, J., McInnes-Greenberg, E., & Pisecny, A. (2014). “In the swell of wandering words”: The arts as a vehicle for adolescents’ and educators’ inquiries into the Holocaust memoir Night. Perspectives on Urban Education, 11(2), pp. 90-106.

Simon, R., & Campano, G. (2015). Hermeneutics of literacy pedagogy.
In K. Pahl & J. Rowsell (Eds.), Routledge Handbook of Literacy Studies (pp. 476-482). NY: Routledge.

Collaborative Inquiry using Night: An Interview with Professor Rob Simon, and Facing History and Ourselves (2013)

Facing History
’s approach heightens students’ understanding of racism, religious intolerance, and prejudice; increases students’ ability to relate history to their own lives; and promotes greater understanding of their roles and responsibilities in a democracy.

Facing History Canada provides educators with the tools, strategies, and resources for students to explore themes of prejudice, judgment and justice, and civic responsibility.

The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum offers resources on antisemitism, and Holocaust denial and distortion

Voices into Action is a free online educational program that features tools for teaching and learning about human rights, including horrific events in human history like the Holocaust.