Monday, January 4, 2016

Using our classrooms to bring historical context to modern tragedies

Many of your students probably looked to you to help understand the horrible tragedy that occurred in San Bernardino on December 2.  I know that some of mine did.  One way to seek meaning from the horrors of the present is to use our historical themes of context, continuity, and change to search for examples in the past.

A recent op-ed in The New York Times provides a useful tool in that regard.  The author tells the story of murderous violence in Los Angeles in 1871.  That violence was triggered by fighting between rival Chinese gangs, which later spilled-over into attacks by native-borns against Chinese immigrants.  In those later attacks 18 Chinese were murdered.
Image result for chinatown massacre los angeles
You can read additional commentary about this 1871 incident from History News Network here, from LA Weekly here, and from the Los Angeles Times here.

All of these stories, present and past, are awfully painful.  But finding a route into discussing them can provide comfort, and historical context and meaning, to our students.

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