In an effort to more permanently include the Armenian Genocide and other 20th century genocides into the Pasadena high school curriculum, The Genocide Education Project (GenEd) provided a full-day professional training workshop for Pasadena high school history teachers, Asbarez reports.
Led by GenEd’s Education Specialist, Sara Cohan, the comprehensive workshop covered a range of topics related to genocide, including the California state requirements on Armenian Genocide instruction, the genesis and meaning of the term, common conditions leading to genocide, and the “eight stages of genocide.”
The basic history of the Armenian Genocide was provided, and teachers were introduced to a variety of resources to use in class, including GenEd-developed lesson plans, “Human Rights and Genocide: A Case Study of the First Modern Genocide of the 20th Century,” “Nicole’s Journey,” an online, interactive course, “The Armenian Journey: From Despair to Hope in Rhode Island,” a documentary video and classroom study guide produced by GenEd.
Guest Speaker, Lorna Touryan Miller, spoke about her extensive work documenting the oral histories of Armenian Genocide survivors and survivors of the genocide in Rwanda. Herself a daughter of genocide survivors, Miller first recorded her father’s story of survival, which spurred her and her husband, Donald Miller, to continue recording the oral histories of other genocide survivors. They are currently editing a new book titled, Survivor Voices: From Ottoman Turkey to Rwanda.
“It was excellent,” said Pasadena teacher Joe Shady. “The personal stories from Lorna were very moving.” Shady said he plans to use the workshop’s resources in preparing his social studies courses. “I want to incorporate the eight stages of genocide, so that way my students can compare genocides throughout history and across eras and regions.”
Teachers in attendance engaged in robust discussions about “best practices” around teaching the subject of genocide and the most effective ways of communicating the important society themes that run through the continuum of genocides of modern history.
“We applaud the Pasadena Unified School District for hosting this unique and useful professional development activity to enhance their teachers’ readiness for bringing lessons on the Armenian Genocide into their classrooms,” said Shoghig Yepremian, chairperson of the Armenian National Committee of America’s Pasadena Chapter. The ANCA-Pasadena chapter was instrumental in bringing the city’s attention to the need for the Pasadena schools to incorporate this topic into their standard curriculum, and the organization led the effort to organize and fund the teacher-training workshop.
ANCA-Pasadena initiated and organized the workshop, and secured funding from Saint Sarkis Armenian Apostolic Church, the Armenian Cultural Foundation, the Armenian Youth Federation Juniors, the Armenian General Athletic Union and Scouts (Homenetmen), PUSD and California State Senator Carol Liu.
“We’re very grateful to all the organizations and Senator Liu for recognizing the need for this instruction and pooling resources to make it happen,” said Yepremian. “We’re also sincerely appreciative to The Genocide Education Project and particularly Sara Cohan for sharing her incredible knowledge about genocide and human rights and delivering such valuable mentorship to educators,” said Yepremian. “Likewise, sincere thanks to Lorna Touryan Miller, whose extensive knowledge of the traumatic experiences of genocide victims helps teachers and students put a human face on an otherwise faraway, historic event.”
The Genocide Education Project is a nonprofit, tax-exempt organization that assists educators in teaching about human rights and genocide, particularly the Armenian Genocide, by developing and distributing instructional materials, providing access to teaching resources and organizing educational workshops.