10 September 2010

Armenia: The Case For A Forgotten Genocide...

Truth be told, I am packing my bookshelves into boxes in preparation for a move later this year or early next year, once I have finished my masters. It is a long process, not only because there are thousands of books to be packed away, but because I find myself stopping ever now and then to read a few pages or more of a book before putting it into the box.

I came across a photocopied version of "Armenia: The Case For A Forgotten Genocide" by Dickran H. Boyajian (LLM) in my collection of books. The original version it seems was once held by the Permanent Mission to the United Nations of the Republic of Indonesia. I guess, this means that I probably picked it up through my previous work.

Anyways, it is a book I have read a number of times before. I read it and used parts of it in an honours thesis that I wrote for my LLB (Bachelor of Laws). Although for some reason it never ended up getting graded and the rest is history so they say. The book is a challenging read and makes a compelling case. Nevertheless, there are always two sides to any interpretation of history, and this is certainly the case here.

The fact that the Armenian genocide is still so contentious after almost a century having passed is testament to the passionate opinions and interpretations held on each side of the genocide claim.

The purpose of the post is not really to review the book. It is really more to recommend it to anyone that might have an interest in matters such as these. I have been doing some reading on the holocaust of the Jews during World War II. Having read Boyajian's book it has certainly provided a lot of food for thought as to how I might go about teaching subject matter that relates to genocide more generally with respect to people's ability for inhumanity against their fellow human beings.

So, if any one has a fascination for learning in this area or about the history of the Armenian genocide, then this book might be a good jumping off point.

More than anything else, for me this time it was really about wanting to get away from the compulsory reading I have had to do to complete assessment tasks of late. But, in the end, I still find myself thinking about ways and means to teach the material and content that my reading illuminates for me.

Ho hum...


Anonymous said...

these are good signs for your becoming a good teacher. I truly hope you can make it all work. I have taught several units 40 times in the last 10 years and still the polishing process is not finished. Strangely? there is never a finished product, a perfect powerpoint..... is that a sign of my mental instability (in the nicest sense of the word), or the nature of education - teacher meets class on certain day with a certain mission - the results are always unpredictable and uncertain.

over to you..

Have you ever thought about the even more difficult task of teaching someone how to teach eg someone who has been teaching for many years

Rob Baiton said...

@ Anonymous...

Thanks, I think.

I reckon that is the point of critical reflection. The perfecting job is never really done. In fact, I find that I tend to have a couple of versions of the same lesson plan depending on the students I may or may not have in the class at any one point in time.

This, though, is still flexible because no two classes or sets of students are ever the same or exhibit the exact same learning dynamic.

It is, after all, the nature of the teaching game, is it not?

I am a strong believer in planning, particularly written lesson plans. However, this is, and must be, within the framework of the teacher being flexible enough (and perhaps knowledgeable enough) with the content / material to adapt and modify on the run to suit the direction that any one class may take.

Yes. I have thought about it, and done it. Teaching others how to teach always works much better when those being taught have some appreciation of the concept of life-long learning. And, that there is always more than one way to skin a cat.

Is it easy? Not usually. But, ultimately that is the challenge of teaching at all levels; encouraging learning. For me, I describe it as "a lights on moment". It is that moment where you can actually see the learner realising that they have just learned something new or useful that they had not known previously.

lawbugger said...

Yeh I guess you have provided a way out of the somewhat intimidating moment of walking in on day one of any form of adult education (eg some sort of upgrading training - for want of a better term) - the intimidation comes from the realization that amongst the members of the class most have come to get "the answer/solution". I think you are saying they are there to engage in a process of lifetime learning. It is relevant I think in such cases to know if the learners are there willingly or have been "sent". It would be the latter who will be seeking the answers.

There is a third group ot be found in our offices and schools, who see no need for any form of upgrading, and would refuse any educational "intrusion"

thanks for your thoughts, lawbugger

I cant seem to get my name in lights in your logon system. Ill try again - the word verification does not always show, at first.

Rob Baiton said...

@ Lawbugger...

I guess that is the ROTE way! You come, you take notes, you regurgitate at exam time, you get your certificate...game over!

Sent or voluntary, a lot of what happens once class starts is teacher dependent in the sense that if the teacher can quickly build rapport and engage the students, then there is a small window of opportunity to escape the ROTE.

Yet, I would agree there is still a lot of resistance to change in Indonesia. There are still a lot of students who only want to be taught in the ROTE way. Oh well.

I have rarely encountered the third group you mention. To be honest, I have not encountered on an individual or an institutional level in Indonesia. I can distinguish between resistance to change and point blank refusal to seek out education or to learn. Everyone I encountered in Indonesia was up for training or education of some sort. The cynical part of me identified a few of those who were only interested in getting out of the office (or normal routine) for a day.

As I said, Ho Hum...