Normally, the video would come at the end of my blog post, but don't waste your time reading my words until after you watch how Chuck Brodsky helps students at the Pine School in Florida relate to the Holocaust in a unique and powerful way.
This all started about two months ago, when I wrote about singer/song writer Chuck Brodsky, his thoughtful and reflective music. I explained how the pandemic was keeping him from touring, but how it offered a unique opportunity for schools and creative teachers to tap into a world class talent to provide a learning opportunity that would not be possible save for the pandemic.
Most of his songs are based on true stories that are windows into the human condition. They are insightful observations of life, how it is lived, and how it should be lived. I knew his songs of the Holocaust could help students connect to history in a way that no text book could ever do. I knew that if I wasn't retired, I would be looking for ways to connect Chuck with my students and give them life lessons and experiences in history, story telling, and writing in ways that could never be done through text books.
My days in the classroom ended more than a decade ago, but my connections to schools and the like minded teachers I had worked over the years were still at it. After reaching out to Chuck with my thoughts about how his music could inspire students and offered to help connect him with schools and he took me up on my offer.
In the beginning of February, I reached out to my friend Karlheinz Haas, who was the Educational Technology Curriculum Director at Southern Regional, where I was teaching and consulting in the 90's. He's now at the Pine School in Florida where 8th grade teacher, Kim Yaris, conducts an annual Holocaust unit.
The class had already read Eli Wiesel's "Night", done research, and had a visit from a classmate's father who was a Holocaust survivor. Kim's unit was based in story telling and after some planning it was decided that Chuck would could first conduct a Zoom concert, and perform some of his songs, tell their back stories, and answer questions as a way of leading the students into their culminating projects. Then about two weeks later he again once again met with the class for more in depth interviews about his life, his writing process, and to provide commentary and suggestions on their projects. It was one of the three most significant educational experiences of my 40+ years in education.
I documented the project and here's a 30 minute compilation of the activities. If you would like to connect Chuck before the pandemic begins to ease up and he resumes touring, you can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org .