Monday, November 12, 2007

Peace March

Life has a way of illustrating big questions with "coincidental" events.

My day began at the Community-Minded Enterprises building (the Saranac), planning for the Ecuador Youth Exchange, and discussing the importance of essential questions in school curriculum. In my role as the project coordinator, I decided to apply the UBD model (Understanding By Design) to define learning objectives for our youth program. In short, UBD uses what they call essential questions to frame unit designs and lesson plans. Essential questions speak to the heart of any subject matter and provide a driving conceptual framework for academic inquiry.

When I learned the UBD model as part of my master's program at Whitworth University (formerly Whitworth College), I wasn't sure when I would ever use my skills again. The college drilled us so thoroughly, I thought I would never voluntarily embrace UBD again. And yet there I was this morning teaching the UBD model to my fellow staff.

For almost two hours, we wrestled with the essential questions we feel drive the curriculum of the Ecuador Youth Exchange. Essential questions aren't always easy. They're open ended and often require deep reflection.

Now for the "coincidence..."

As I left the building, I was surprised to see a rather somber looking group of about 40 or 50 people carrying hand-painted war protest signs. A small brass band led the way playing something like a funeral dirge, while several others carried coffins draped in black cloth. The dreary skies and the freezing drizzle added a more serious tone to their procession.

I'm always thinking nothing exciting ever happens in Spokane, so I ran off behind the march to take pictures. Some of the marchers eyed me suspiciously, like the man behind the Spanish protest sign. Others seemed not to notice, while one man soberly handed me an anti-war pamphlet. At least one marchers recognized me and raced over to give me a hug. It was such an interesting mix of reactions.

As I watched the procession walk away through the pouring rain, my mind went back to my session earlier in the day. We had talked about essential questions, and I began to wonder what essential questions drive this current war.

I'm not feeling particularly anxious to throw myself into this highly divisive topic, but the educator in me wonders how I might address this war in a social studies classroom setting. What essential questions would I ask, and by extension, what essential questions should we ask as a nation?

In light of the sharply divided feelings on this issue, certain questions come to mind. Feel free to answer as you see fit, or add your own questions:

In a democratic society, how do we decide when war is justified?

How do societies find common ground on divisive "hot-button" issues?

What is the value of dissent in a democratic society?

1 comment:

Chelle said...

Well I think part of the problem is that we were so divided on the subject in the first place. Then Bush insisted on going to war no matter what the US wanted and what other nations wanted.To me it felt like it was his war and we were bullied into it. It was not our war, which is what it should of been. I belive that when we do go to war we should all try to stand by it. Mostly because it is our people over there and we need to support them. Was it the Vietnam war when we treated the soilders coming home with such disrespect and animosity? To think we could treat the soldiers the way we did after so much they did for us is sicking. I don't like what is going on over there right now. But I will support the soliders regardless. My neighbor is over in Iraq right now.He has a wife and two kids. I hate that he has to be over there. I wish our soldiers could come home. Bush got us into this war and now I feel that we just can't back out now. We have to finish what we started. Anyways, those are my thoughts on the war.


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