Violence: Past, Present and Future
A New Course for High School Students at the Brown School
On December 21, 1988, a terrorist group blew up Pan Am jumbo jet flight 103
over Lockerbie, Scotland, killing all 259 people on board and 11 people on
On February 26, 1993, again, a terrorist group attempted to blow up the
World Trade Center in New York City, killing 5 people and leaving more than
a thousand injured in the process.
On April 19, 1995, a truck bomb blew up the Alfred P. Murrah federal
building in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, killing 167 people including children
who were attending a day care center in the building. The prime suspect
has been linked to this country's growing militia movement.
On July 17, 1996, TWA flight 800 blew up over Long Island Sound killing all
230 people on board. Terrorists are speculated to have planted a bomb that
blew the cockpit away from the rest of the plane.
On July 27, 1996, someone left a pipe bomb in a knapsack in Centennial Park
during the Olympics in Atlanta. The bomb exploded, killing 2 people and
injuring dozens more.
During these same months, crimes committed by juveniles skyrocketed:
In San Antonio, Texas, a 13-year-old girl was convicted of smothering two
small children left in her care.
In Portland, Oregon, a 10-year-old boy was found guilty of murdering his
5-year-old sister because he claimed she was annoying him.
In Chicago, Illinois, a 14-year-old girl was shot to death by an
11-year-old gang member who was in turn found dead a few days later, two
bullets in the back of his head. His suspected killers are 14 and 16.
In Fuquay-Varina, North Carolina, a 13-year-old boy was accused of beating
a 22-year-old neighbor with a mop handle and then raping her.
In Somerset, Pennsylvania, a 14-year-old was charged with hammering nails
into the heels of a younger boy.
And in Washington, D.C., a Superior Court judge told Time magazine,
"Youngsters used to shoot each other in the body. Then in the head. Now
they shoot each other in the face."
As a nation and as a world, we are not feeling well. If present trends
continue, the 20th century seems destined to be remembered as the bloodiest
in the history of humankind, a century of despair.
What is this all about? What psychohistorical threads are common to all
these actions, and to other instances of violence throughout history?
What is the Course Description?
Violence: Past, Present and Future is a course that is being offered at the
Brown School to allow high school students the opportunity to explore the
history of violence, examine the current climate of violence, review the
alternatives to violence, and project themselves into a future of their own
design. Many of the course assignments and discussions will be designed to
develop students' capacities to analyze, defend and critique public
policies, and to develop skill with the use of information resources
available in the library and on the Internet. Beginning with a look at the
biological, sociological and psychological roots of violence and
aggression, class sessions throughout the year will include, but are not
limited to: history of war and the theory of just wars; heroes and
heroines; cultural, institutional and structural violence; violence in
popular culture past and present -- sports, media, entertainment, etc;
alternatives to violence including mediation, conflict resolution and
theories of non-violence; and psychological aspects of violence including
powerlessness, anger and shame.
Students will be engaged in:
* Film and other resources
* Guest speakers
* Group research projects and presentation
What are the Course Objectives?
* To understand the root causes of violence and
* To become aware of why and how violence has become an
inappropriate expression of aggression;
* To explore different ways of looking at and thinking
* To uncover our hidden assumptions about violence and
* To analyze real situations involving violence and some
* To develop and critique alternatives to violence;
* To enhance your social skills of listening, discussing,
interacting, trusting, negotiating and deciding.
How Much Credit and When Will Class Meet?
Class will meet two times per week for the entire year (both semesters),
once during MAP and once at a time to be determined, probably for the hour
before school starts. Students who:
* make the commitment to take this course for the entire
* who complete the assigned work, and
* who attend and participate in class on a regular basis
will receive 1/2 elective credit (the equivalent of taking a one semester
course that meets five times per week).
Who is Eligible to Take This Course?
Violence: Past, Present and Future is available to any and all Brown School
high school students who have written permission from their parent(s) to
add this to their schedules. This class will not be taken in place of
another class in which you are already enrolled. This class is in addition
to your regularly scheduled classes.
Who Is the Instructor?
WAVE member Jan Arnow will be teaching this course. An internationally
recognized authority on issues of multicultural education, violence
abatement, prejudice reduction, and ethnic traditions, she is also a highly
respected and award-winning author of six books and scores of articles for
a variety of national magazines. Her most recent book, Teaching Peace:
Raising Kids in Harmony Without Fear, Without Prejudice, Without Violence,
was published in September 1995 by Putnam Group Publishers. She is
currently working on several new projects: the design and implementation of
a national institute on violence and aggression in youth and several books.
Her teaching experience ranges from workshops to university courses, she
has developed and successfully taught pilot programs both regionally and
nationally on various issues of creativity and education, and she has most
recently addressed the General Assembly of the United Nations on the issues
of children and violence.
For three years, up to May, 1994, she was the Manager of Multicultural
Education at the Kentucky Department of Education. As part of her
responsibilities at the Department, she defined multicultural education for
the Commonwealth during their landmark school reform; created policy
guidelines for implementation of multicultural curriculum; designed and
implemented state-wide multicultural education workshop/training matrixes
and conferences; and worked closely with both Department and district
personnel to bring them up to speed on multicultural issues.
Prior to coming to the Department of Education, she established the
Institute for Intercultural Understanding in Louisville, Kentucky, an
organization involved nationally and internationally in projects which
encourage understanding among diverse cultures. Under her direction, the
Institute began an international program titled Voiceless Victims, a
project documenting the effects on children of conflict, violence and war
through their art and poetry. This project has received funding from two
unique entertainment products -- a benefit recording from Columbia Records
created just for this project called 'Til Their Eyes Shine -- The Lullaby
Album (released July, 1992), and the companion film, Child of Mine -- The
Lullaby Video, first broadcast on the Disney Channel in December 1992 and
winner of the CableAce Award for Best musical special on cable television
during 1993. This recording and film feature prominent vocalists including
Carole King, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Rosanne Cash, Dionne Warwick, Brenda
Russell, Gloria Estefan and others performing lullabies, many of which were
composed for this album.
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