Manitoba

Fighting genocide: Human rights museum's educator-in-residence works on new way to teach students

Graham Lowes has collaborated with the Montreal Holocaust Museum on ways to help students better understand historical and contemporary human rights issues. The result is a new resource guide for students and teachers.

Guide developed in collaboration with Montreal Holocaust Museum focuses on process of 'othering'

Graham Lowes is the educator in residence at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights. (Travis Golby/CBC)

When human rights educator Graham Lowes speaks to students about some of the most horrific events in history, the effect can be depressing.

"I was teaching human rights in my class a few years ago and a student said to me, 'Mr. Lowes, the world sucks,'" said the teacher in the Louis Riel School Division and educator-in-residence at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights.

"And I was like, yeah it does, but that's where we really need to say, 'Recognizing that the world sucks is an important part, but doesn't end there.'"

Lowes has collaborated with the Montreal Holocaust Museum on ways to help students better understand historical and contemporary human rights issues. The result is a new resource guide for students and teachers.

'Us Versus Them'

The guide, titled Us Versus Them: Creating the Other, focuses on the process of "othering" and how that fuels genocides.

"If you can understand what's going on in the background, then you're really better able to prevent it from happening in the future," said Lowes during an interview with Ismaila Alfa, host of CBC Manitoba's afternoon radio show, Up to Speed.

"We want to build that foundational understanding and say, 'Hey look, these are some of the patterns that happen not only in genocides, but also in human rights violations.'"

With the resource guide, students analyze artifacts, timelines, and survivor testimonies to reflect on how dominant groups use the process of othering to exclude, discriminate and persecute minority groups.

Lowes hopes the guide leads to productive classroom discussions between students.

"You can give students all the information about what's happening historically and even current events and those type of things but really the power of a conversation in a classroom is where that change happens."

Now that the resource guide is complete, the next step will be to create a virtual classroom program that can be delivered via the Internet to remote classrooms.

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.