History teachers confront Armenian genocide

While students take a break from their studies, local history teachers are using the summer holiday to brush up on a particularly relevant chapter in history.

Working in conjunction with Facing History and Ourselves, an international education organization that seeks to address modern-day moral dilemmas using lessons from the past, Glendale Unified is hosting a five-day seminar examining the historical implications of the Armenian genocide.

“The fact that we are able to host this workshop is awesome,” said Nancy Witt, a teacher specialist who helped facilitate the event this week. “We have teachers from all over L.A. that are participating. It is a pretty intense week.”

Titled “The Armenian Genocide and International Justice,” the seminar is meant to facilitate critical thinking about the ability of individuals, groups and nations to address injustice in the modern world, said Marti Tippens Murphy, a director with Facing History.

Sessions have included studying historical narratives and research, as well as a lecture by Richard Hovannisian, a UCLA professor and a genocide expert.

“The study will be expanded to look at tools for human rights and justice today, including the International Criminal Court and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,” Murphy said in an email.

On Wednesday, teachers participated in a session lead by Sara Terry, founder of the Aftermath Project, which seeks to examine the consequences of violent conflict via photography.

The demographic makeup of Glendale students makes the seminar all the more important, Witt said, especially for teachers who hail from outside Glendale. The district has worked with Facing History on staff development projects for more than two decades, she added.

“Because of the fact that we have the largest Armenian population outside of Yerevan, and genocide is a 10th-grade standard, we offer every other year, if not every year, some type of staff development to teachers in Glendale focusing on the Armenian genocide,” Witt said.


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