Let Freedom Ring: Entreaty to Teachers

Let Freedom Ring: Entreaty to Teachers

The words of Margaret Mead “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world… it is the only thing that ever has,” are as pertinent now, as ever. The anniversary of the march on Washington has just passed. 9.11 is approaching. While something ominous and deadly is imminent in Syria. Events have a way of arriving and then departing like weather reports and headlines, here in America, where we are afflicted with historical amnesia and the conveyor belt of holidays. In the spirit of dreams and the tradition of dissent, I offer this multimedia list as a resource to use with your students (whether in Amsterdam or Brooklyn, international schools or public ones), to remind us of the madness of the world and the vigilance that peace requires.

Myles Horton’s The Long Haul

Dr Kings “Letter from the Birmingham Jail”

Paul Robeson’s “Old Man River” (the unexpurgated version)

Mark Twain’s A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthurs Court

Dalton Trumbo’s Johnny Got His Gun

Langston Hughes’ “Columbia” from The Collected Poems of Langston Hughes

Picasso’s Guernica

Bob Dylan’s “Masters of War”

Charles Mingus’ “Meditations on Integration”

Phil Ochs’ “I Aint Marching Anymore”

Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five

Wendel Berry’s “Thoughts in the Presence of Fear”

Billy Holiday’s “Strange Fruit”

Woody Guthrie’s “This Land is Your Land”

My entreaty is this, put aside your lesson plans for a day, or at the very least, one period. Because this is the core curriculum: learning how to become a citizen and a human being. So that freedom one day will resound with the energy of rock and roll, from sea to luminous sea, from farms to cities, from the east to the west, without wars, or arms, or the shameless pilfering of the earth. Do this with and for the children you teach. So they discover that history is made by ordinary people with the courage not to be silenced or sit in the back of the bus. And come to understand that freedom for all is still a dream deferred. Is still the only dream worth having.

About David Penberg

David Penberg is an urban and international educational leader. He has held leadership roles in non-profits, community-based organizations, independent, international and charter schools, and in higher education. He has a deep grounding in progressive education, the cross-cultural experience and leadership development. Dr. Penberg has a Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. He was a fellow in the Carey Leadership Program at Bank Street College (1982-84) and Klingenstein Fellow for International School Heads at Teachers College, Columbia University (2008). He was the founding director of the nationally recognized Liberty Partnerships Program at Bank Street College. Since then, Penberg has held posts as Head of Studies and Head of School in international schools in Mexico City and Barcelona. He was most recently the Head of School at Innovate Manhattan Charter School in the lower east side and is an adjunct at Pace University’s Teaching Fellows program. He abides by Auden's dictum "We were put on earth to make things."
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