Addressing Injustices
Addressing Injustices
Addressing Injustices brings together teachers and middle school students to read, write, and change the world.
 

After Night

In 2013 in Toronto, Canada, teenagers from a Catholic youth leadership group and teacher candidates from Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto (OISE) 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 novelNight by Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel (1960). 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 include triangles painted on book pages in colours and patterns they chose to represent their visions of diversity and solidarity with victims of intolerance. In the film, one youth says, “This art project…because it was more of an open kind of discussion, I felt it was very different and very effective.” Another youth reveals, “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.” A teacher candidate says, “Painting as a way of responding to Night was really different for me, especially as a teacher candidate who is learning how to teach different texts. It just reinforced the whole concept of “multiliteracies” and how there is more than one way to respond to a text.” In speaking about the creation of a painting that included the Kaddish—a Hebrew prayer that is a part of Jewish rituals of mourning—Dr. Simon says, “It felt to me, particularly important that we remind ourselves that, amidst all of the multi-colours and celebrations of diversity, that there is this deeply mournful sense of obligation that we have to the memories of those who perished, as well as to the legacies of those who survived the Holocaust.” The youth, teachers, and researchers put together an exhibition of their paintings for public viewing at Hart House, University of Toronto. The 25-minute documentary film “AfterNight” (2014) tells the touching story of this 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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Resources

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.

Visit their website

Download the PDF guide for developing your own Holocaust exhibit

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