The Student Newspaper of Lakeside School


The Student Newspaper of Lakeside School


The Student Newspaper of Lakeside School


Letter to the Editors

History department responds to criticism of Lakeside’s silence around the war in Gaza.

The horrific massacre of Israelis followed by the merciless bombing of Palestinians. Tens of thousands dead and wounded, millions displaced. All happening as we speak and don’t speak. How do we as teachers navigate this pain and turn it into learning. Center humanity, yes, but what of these human acts of egregious and extreme violence? Where to begin? Certainly, with history, for the history of everything we teach contains this tragedy and trauma, and we begin by asking questions.

What do our students need from us?

We want to commend Samara and “Tatler” for taking action. Lakeside is rightly a school where students have voice and influence, where they have agency and can hold adults accountable. We hope students who read this response feel heard and understood. We hope you feel cared for in the ways
that we seek to take care. We hope you feel we understand that the institutional response has not been adequate and understand that we want to work for and with you to improve the response.

As we engage with these events, what do we say in the face of dis-
information cloaked in distorted facts and facts themselves in dispute? Core courses variously offered lessons on the conflict, the region, context of the lands, cultures, and religions of the Middle East, or discussions on the crisis and its relationship to U.S. history. Electives made relevant connections to their course content. We agree that this isn’t enough. Our survey of student interest raised more questions than it answered. What seemed clear was the desire for space to delve into the history and tragedy of current events, alongside space for those grieving in profound and intimate ways. What else?

How can we, as teachers, give guidance about resolving and understanding this incredibly painful conflict? As these events unfold, our courses already presume lofty goals: to teach the history of the world and the United States in ways that give students the tools they need to be global citizens, reflect the diversity and the histories of our community, teach students skills for college, acknowledge oppression without reifying it, rework problematic narratives with new material, perspectives, and ideas, and to have discussions both
open and mediated to avoid situations that may cause harm.

Consequently, we must consider how and when to bring emergent issues into our work. When we do, a topic this close to people’s hearts and experiences requires that we proceed with a special amount of care. Our response must be timely, thoughtful, engaging, reflective, nuanced, relevant, differentiated, provocative, welcoming, and adaptable — and cannot be equal parts of all.

How much can we accomplish?

History seems like the logical starting point, but this discussion cannot fall to one department.

We are one department within a broader school. History seems like the logical starting point, but this discussion cannot fall to one department. Like other world events, this needs to be part of a broader dialogue with our community. What role can be played by the administration and other departments? While we saw the inevitability of our role, we also looked to other leaders at Lakeside and awaited indications of a broader institutional response.

How can we do this work together?

Can this be an opportunity for reflection about the ways in which students and teachers can be collaborators? Can we check in so we know when students think we’re slipping? How can we best be responsive in cases when we as teachers need time to learn before we can respond? Student collaboration is both helpful and essential, and students should know that all of us — and each of us — welcome conversations about our field and our work in it.

This article was written by the history department as an open letter to “Tatler” editors.

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