Speak Truth to Power: Illinois Holocaust Museum Training

On April 10, 2018, over 70 teachers from Chicago schools gathered at the Illinois Holocaust Museum for a day long Speak Truth to Power (STTP) teacher training. The training was part of the museum’s STTP programming which includes the photo exhibit, a docent training, a performance of the play Speak Truth to Power: Voices from Beyond the Dark and a launch event with Kerry Kennedy.

Representing over 45 elementary and high schools, one community organization and two universities, the teachers brought a diverse array of subject experience and expertise to the Chicago training, including Math, Science, Social Science, Language Arts, Foreign Language, Theater Arts and Pre-Service Teacher Education. Though a majority of the teachers never thought of themselves as human rights educators, many had touched on human rights within their curriculum prior to the session.

The goals of the training were threefold: introduce the teachers to Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights and Speak Truth to Power, engage in active learning about human rights and human rights education, and develop plans for STTP integration into the teachers’ current work. Over the course of the day, as the teachers started to learn more about human rights and discuss, analyze and apply the concepts of human rights education to their own practice, the realization that they were, in fact, human rights educators lit up the room and sparked continued engagement with the material.

One of the most inspiring parts of any STTP teacher training is the sharing of implementation ideas and strategies. With newfound confidence in their roles as human rights educators, many of the participants shared thoughtful, innovative and creative approaches to integrating STTP into the full range of the subject areas represented. From a “Then and Now” look at social movements and the human rights defenders who led them to a “BaD (Become a Defender) Genius Hour” – a time for students to take action on behalf of human rights – the ideas were inspired and energized everyone in the room.

What started as a group of 70+ teachers exploring new ideas ended with a group of 70+ human rights educators ready to incorporate Speak Truth to Power and human rights learning into their curriculum, their classroom, their schools and beyond.

“The second the workshop began I knew I would be using Speak Truth to Power in my classroom teaching. There are so many ways to integrate the Human Rights Defenders and to incorporate human rights education into everything I do…this is exciting,” said one participant named Elizabeth.

Angie, another Chicago teacher, added: “I have always addressed social justice issues with my students but now I can bring human rights into those conversations and challenge my students to see themselves as human rights defenders – that is transformative.”

As we welcome the newest members to the STTP teacher team, we are looking ahead to our 2018 New York City Summer Institute. Hosted by the United Federation of Teachers, this training will provide teachers, educators and community leaders with an opportunity to learn the ins and outs of human rights education and join a cohort of teachers who recognize their own ability to speak truth to power for the protection and defense of human rights. The training will be held August 6-8.

For more information, please contact Karen Robinson at [email protected]