There are days when I am simply amazed. In my Holocaust Lit class we are reading The World Must Know. I debated this idea (internally) but came to the conclusion that my students must read at least the first two sections in order to understand as much as possible about this "thing" called the Holocaust. My current format is that they read independently and then bring ideas, emotions, questions, etc. to class discussion. They have "think journals" with them at all times to record these things while they're reading.
Today in class we discussed the section about Christianity, Martin Luther's comments on Judaism, and the history of exile within Judaism. Several students had commented in their journals that they felt a new sense of shame in their religion and a new understanding of Jewish persecution prior to Hitler's empire. The conversation was rich, emotional, and moving. I was so amazed at some of the statements they made and the questions they asked. It was amazing that much of their conversation - the conversation of 15 - 18 year-olds - reflected much of our discussion online before coming to New York. I must say, I underestimated their ability to understand the gravity of it all. I could see it in their eyes. They were hungry for more. They wanted to understand human nature and how "all of this stuff" came to be. Wow! This year is going to be life-changing for all of us, I can feel it.
Today, there was a group of 12 kids, in the middle of Nebraska who began to understand more of the world and themselves. Maybe I can make a difference.