Volume 4 Issue 2

Teaching under Fire

Sigal Ben-Porath

I was driving through the Tel-Aviv rush hour for a civic studies class at the second chance school where I taught for the past few years. I liked to use the drive time to go over the lesson plan in my mind, to recall the last class, and to change gears from my own morning rush to a more focused teaching state of mind. My students were disaffected teenagers with a wide range of backgrounds and abilities, and with a lot going on in their personal lives. I was always challenged to find a balance between responding to their emotional and behavioral needs, and supporting their academic success.

“…still they continue teaching.”

Dean Brooks

Teaching and learning in war means conflict and disaster and this is what has become my profession.  Almost seven years ago, I left the classroom to embark upon a new journey which is the management of emergency and development education programs.  This path has led me to countries caught in turmoil from Eastern Europe, East and West Africa and Asia.  Presently, I find myself in the northern corner of Uganda working with the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) to implement emergency education interventions, which in the past two years has reached more than 170 schools and 1,300 teachers. 

Bridging Troubled Waters: Principles for teaching in times of crisis

Kevin Michael Foster

First, an important point of order and clarity:  September 11th didn't change everything; nor did the landfall of Hurricane Katrina and subsequent breach of the levee that held Lake Pontchartrain back from the city of New Orleans; nor did the Tsunamis that engulfed coastal communities along the Indian Ocean; nor does the ongoing genocide of black Africans in the Darfur region of Sudan, nor do the ongoing demonstrations to extend basic civil and human rights to this nation's most recent influx of immigrants.

Brown Skin, Blue Passport: Reflections on a Trip to Banda Aceh, Indonesia

Anita Chikkatur

It’s a hot day in July. I find myself in a university classroom in Banda Aceh, Indonesia, listening as an Achenese elementary school teacher narrates a children’s story. As she breaks into song in the middle of the story, the twenty other teachers in the classroom join in. I’m awed by their talents and think about how lucky I feel to be able to experience this.

What was I doing in Banda Aceh in the middle of the summer? This is my account of trying to make some sense of two intense weeks I spent in the capital city of Aceh province in July 2005. The presentation is not a theoretical or empirical one. Rather it is a personal account of how I reacted to the various aspects of this experience while I was in Aceh and after I came back to Philadelphia.

First impressions and some background

Out of Disaster Comes Opportunity: Initial Lessons from Teacher Mentoring in Banda Aceh, Indonesia

Joy Lesnick & Katherine Schultz

As a science educator, I have learned that teachers sometimes feel like they can’t teach science without specialized equipment.  In my experience, however, there are many science concepts that can be demonstrated with very basic tools.  Building a sundial is one activity that is rich in content and requires very few materials. 

Building sundials had been a successful activity for me with both students and teachers in the U.S, so I was excited to share the activity with teachers in Aceh during our two-week professional development session.

Rethinking Schools. (2006). Whose Wars? Teaching about the Iraq war and the war on terrorism. Rethinking Schools, Ltd.

Emily Gasoi

Whose wars? Teaching about the Iraq war and the war on terrorism, is an educational resource compiled by the editors of the quarterly magazine, Rethinking Schools. The title leaves no mystery as to the theme of this particular issue and its publication in 2006-- four years after the beginning of the Iraq war-- seems long past due. For socially conscious educators this issue is an exciting and important teaching tool. The seventy- page text is divided into fifteen chapters written by teachers who contribute articles, letters and lessons designed to stimulate critical thinking and discussion among students concerning various aspects of the United States’ controversial “war on terror.”

Giduck, John. (2005). Terror at Beslan: A Russian Tragedy with Lessons for America’s School. Archangel Group, Inc.

Rena Harris

Does your school have a protocol for a violent attack?  Could another Beslan occur?  If so, what lessons can we learn from the tragedy of September, 2004?  John Giduck asserts that the terrorist threat to U.S. schools is highly feasible, and he urges schools to be prepared for the eventuality of terrorist attacks and uses the Beslan tragedy to spur schools into action. Giduck’s training is in Military Intelligence, and he was based in Russia. At the onset of the Beslan attack, he traveled to the site.  He presents a first-hand account to the tragedy, but he also elaborates on the history of conflict between Chechnya and Russia.  Finally, he offers some pointers for school preparedness and security procedures.  He advises U.S. citizenry to be on guard for terrorists and not be “lulled into complacency”.