Wednesday, 30 April 2014

[RwandaLibre] Teaching Difficult Histories: Rwanda's Post-Genocide Experience


Teaching Difficult Histories: Rwanda's Post-Genocide Experience

Posted by carylsue

Educators and politicians are debating what some call the "official
narrative" of the past, a broadly accepted account that roots the
causes of the genocide in the colonial period. Some allege that this
historical account downplays certain realities, including the murder
of many thousands of Hutu, and favors what some describe as a
"univocal narrative" that is managed by the ruling Rwandan Patriotic
Front. (National Geographic News)

Use our resources for guidance in teaching difficult and contested histories.

A Hutu boy, orphaned by the war in Rwanda, draws pictures of Tutsi-led
Rwandan Patriotic Front soldiers shooting small stick figures who
represent Hutus. Many Rwandan Hutus think their role in the Rwandan
civil war is being re-written in an "official narrative" school
Photograph by Michael Nichols, National Geographic

Discussion Ideas
The curriculum developers at Facing History have developed relevant
materials about genocide and the teaching of history. They have found
that "establishing and nurturing classroom norms of respect and
open-mindedness is one way to help students have productive, safe
conversations about sensitive issues such as prejudice and
discrimination." They then discuss three "Levels of Questions" to help
students approach difficult texts: Factual Questions, Inferential
Questions, and Universal Questions.

Factual questions (level one) can be answered explicitly by facts
contained in the text. A factual discussion question suggested by the
Nat Geo News article might be: What are the main ethnic groups in
Rwanda, as discussed in the article?

Hutu and Tutsi

Inferential questions (level two) can be answered through analysis and
interpretation of specific parts of the text. An inferential
discussion question suggested by the Nat Geo News article might be:
What groups or institutions mentioned or alluded to in the article
contribute to Rwanda's curriculum about the genocide?

Political groups, such as the RPF; curriculum developers, such as the
Rwanda Education Board; influential individuals, such as Paul
Rusesabagina and Charles Kabwete Mulinda; and parents, teachers,
celebrities, and other survivors all contribute to the "participatory
process" of creating the curriculum.

Universal questions (level three) are open-ended questions that are
raised by ideas in the text. They are intended to provoke a discussion
of an abstract idea or issue. Some universal discussion questions
suggested by the Nat Geo News article might be: What is genocide? (The
article relies on a solid, if complex, international legal
definition.) According to the article, who is determining national
identity--"Rwandanness"? How do other nations teach about genocide and
other "contested events" in their own history?

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