It would be difficult to find a single educator in America, who would not agree that Covid-19 changed the pedagogy. Between the chaotic back and forth over masks, the vaccination debate, and parents trying to hold onto their jobs while turning their living rooms into remote learning labs for their kids—the ways in which students learn and teachers teach is different now. And as is usually the case with every societal trauma, the veneer was removed, exposing deeper problems. Racial disparities and the plight of low-income students became front and center. Not every student had access to wi-fi, and many who depended on free breakfast and lunch programs at schools went hungry. Feeling overworked and underappreciated, scores of teachers and principals quit.
In a post-pandemic posture—to sustain forward movement, educators have had to scramble to find ways to keep students engaged: implementing permanent virtual options, stripping away SAT or ACT requirements, making mental health resources available, or finding new ways to harness technology. The pandemic was also a catalyst for increased usage of social media. It was a way to stay on top of the news, a respite from boredom, and a gateway to human interaction. In the midst of all this, historic events were unfolding. The tragic Covid-19 death toll, the January 6th Capitol riots and national protests against police brutality. Now, all eyes are on Russia's war on Ukraine. Daily reports of massacres, bombings and brutality dominate social media. If these unprovoked attacks continue, the violence could devolve into genocide. President Biden has already described it as such. So, how do we teach Gen Z or Zoomers (those born between 1997 and 2012) compassion in our fractured world? There is a solution. Storytelling, the most powerful path to human connection. It's what draws us to movie-theaters, audiobooks, novels, Netflix, Amazon and Hulu. We are transformed and transported, inspired, encouraged, uplifted, persuaded and connected by stories.
EduDoc+ is storytelling. It is a new teaching tool, specifically designed for Holocaust/Genocide curricula which is required in 23 states in the U.S. That number is growing. Created with all the components of the inquiry arc, EduDoc+ pairs powerful documentary films, text lessons, audio tutorials, quizzes, discussion questions, and interactive maps with fully researched, visually stunning online courses for in-class, remote or hybrid learning through powerful storytelling. Teachers maintain full autonomy, while taking students on a journey through history. First, they get to know the people, the food, the culture, traditions, political structure, healthcare, education, what drives the economy, and then they learn why the genocide occurred, how it could have been prevented and how the country is doing today. When students connect with humanity, they have a greater point of reference. They learn compassion, and a respect for cultures outside their own.
Critical thinking and collaborative understanding are hallmarks of global citizenship. Yes, compassion can be taught! EduDoc+ courses cover the Holocaust and genocides in Rwanda, Bosnia, Cambodia, Sudan, Armenia, Tasmania and Namibia. When used in this manner, technology is a powerful tool for learning. Perspectives change. Hearts change. Students can take these courses, then connect via social media with students around the globe, and create joint projects to fight hunger, climate change, or other worthy causes. There is clearly much work to be done. Even in Ukraine, we have seen inequities in the treatment of African refugees. The assistance flowing into this war torn nation is phenomenal. But just think of all the genocides that could have been prevented, had we seen the same outpouring of concern, the concerted efforts to send aid, and the collective condemnation of violence that we are witnessing today on behalf of Ukraine! If we can teach compassion, empathy and respect, and turn students into Global Citizens, then we can prevent future genocides. It is entirely possible and it starts in the classroom.