“Our Stories are Stronger Than Hate,” a new VFT available as part of Teaching with Testimony—a program developed in partnership with USC Shoah Foundation—provides educators with in-depth resources to empower students to combat hate in their own communities. Guest blogger Corey Orr, a science enrichment teacher at Eastbrook Middle School in Dalton, GA shares her favorite components of the VFT below.
Seeing is Believing: One of the things I love most about the VFT is the diversity portrayed among the students and adults who shared their stories about how hate impacted their lives. Our students are more easily able to visualize themselves when they engage with digital resources that include individuals who look like them. From Samantha Grady, a survivor of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas school shooting, to the everyday testimonies of hate shared by current students, the VFT empowers viewers to look inward and find a connection with the content and build empathy for others – one of the main learning objectives of the VFT.
Relatability: I think it’s additionally important for students to see their peers stepping up to share their everyday experiences of hate. The testimonies featured in the VFT are not just about acts of hate like the Holocaust and school shootings, but instead extend to smaller acts of hate common in school communities nationwide, which helps students recognize that hate comes in many forms – not just in big events. The most impactful moments for me were those everyday stories, such as the student who described the hateful comments uttered in regard to his ethnicity while he was saying the Pledge of Allegiance. These are the everyday instances of hate that our students witness in our school communities regularly, and it’s vital that we help them understand that the impact of these “small” slights can be just as great as the impact of major events they see on the news.
Challenge: The VFT ends with information about the Stronger Than Hate Challenge (opening this January!) which inspires students to find their own voices and put their learning from the VFT into action. Students are also encouraged to use #TeachwithTestimony so they can use their social platforms to share how they’re helping make the world stronger than hate.
Our Stories are Stronger Than Hate is available on-demand at https://www.teachingwithtestimony.com/virtual-field-trip. If you’re interested in taking the lessons in the VFT a few steps further, check out the accompanying VFT Educator Guide to help you facilitate class discussion around the topics presented in the VFT. Teaching with Testimony also features a number of other powerful instructional resources to help students understand the importance of human connection and the impact of hate on the world. Let’s all do our part to help students find their voices and take action for a better future.