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Education & Information

Assignments that prompt students to empathize with those who committed atrocities need to go

Assignments that prompt students to empathize with those who committed atrocities need to go

An assignment on the Trail of Tears has prompted debate about taking historical perspectives.

Helping young people understand the causes and effects of historical events is a formidable task for any educator. History isn't just "what happened and when." There's also a "why," "how" and "who" in every historical happening, and quality history education helps students explore those questions.

Sometimes, however, that exploration can go off the rails.

Most people would agree that understanding different perspectives is an important part of learning history, but there are more and less problematic ways of helping students gain that understanding. We've seen some of the more problematic methods pop up in school assignments before, from asking students to pick cotton like slaves to listing the pros and cons of slavery.

Now an assignment from a school in Georgia is making the rounds, with people calling out issues with the perspective it asked students to take.


Jennifer C. Martin shared a photo of a computer screen from her friend's kid's school with an assignment about the Trail of Tears, telling students to write letters from the points of view listed in the questions and to use facts to support their point of view. (The Trail of Tears sometimes refers to the forced removal of several Native nations from their ancestral homelands in the Southeast in the 1830s, but also refers more specifically to the forced relocation of the Cherokee nation to Oklahoma in 1838. Thousands died of disease, exposure and starvation during the removals.)

The writing prompt on the screen reads:

"Write a letter to President Jackson from the perspective of an American settler. Explain why you think removing the Cherokee will help the United States grow and prosper."

Having written about problematic history lessons before, I know there will be people saying, "But this is just asking students to understand different perspectives! We have to be able to understand perspectives we don't agree with."

That may sound reasonable—or even desirable—but there are some problems with that line of thinking when it comes to teaching kids.

One, there's a difference between understanding someone's perspective and taking on their perspective, even as an exercise. The latter can be useful; putting yourself into someone else's shoes through "Imagine if" exercises is a good way to build empathy, helping us understand the impact of an event on a person or people. But is it desirable to build empathy with people who committed or perpetuated atrocities? I would argue it's not.

Second, the Trail of Tears is an objectively oppressive historical event. Asking students to explain the benefits of it from the perspective of the oppressors is gross. We don't need to "both sides" an oppressive event, as if there is some legitimate justification for why it happened and what the impact was. There is an explanation, of course, but when we take on a perspective and make arguments in favor of it as a personal exercise, we risk legitimizing and justifying it. This is totally unnecessary and potentially harmful.

Third, what if you were a student whose ancestors were the ones who suffered and/or died during the Trail of Tears? How would this assignment assist in your understanding of that event? It's not like you wouldn't already know that the settlers cared more about the growth and prosperity of the United States than about your people's lives, so what would be the point of this assignment for you?

If we want students to think critically about these events and look at the different perspectives that led to the tragedy of the Trail of Tears, we can ask questions that get them to think critically without making them argue the benefits from a colonizing perspective, such as:

"Why did some American settlers support the removal of the Cherokee people? What do you think about their reasoning?"

"What were the motivations behind forcing the Cherokee people off their land? How did American settlers benefit from the tragedy?"

"Were the settlers' arguments for relocating the Cherokee aligned with the American ideals of liberty and justice? Explain."

None of those writing prompts require a student to put themselves into the mindset of people who committed or supported violent injustice, but they still accomplish the goal of understanding different perspectives and getting students to think.

We need to acknowledge that history is not neutral and history lessons are not benign. There are ways to teach history that are objectively inappropriate, no matter what the intention behind them. Asking students to take the perspective of a Nazi during the Holocaust would be inappropriate. Asking students to take the perspective of a racist white person in the South during the civil rights movement would be inappropriate. It's not appropriate to ask students to think like a colonizer during the Trail of Tears. Understanding that perspectives differ does not require taking on an oppressive perspective, even as an academic exercise, and we do students a disservice by asking them to do so.


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3 organic recipes that feed a family of 4 for under $7 a serving

O Organics is the rare brand that provides high-quality food at affordable prices.

A woman cooking up a nice pot of pasta.

Over the past few years, rising supermarket prices have forced many families to make compromises on ingredient quality when shopping for meals. A recent study published by Supermarket News found that 41% of families with children were more likely to switch to lower-quality groceries to deal with inflation.

By comparison, 29% of people without children have switched to lower-quality groceries to cope with rising prices.

Despite the current rising costs of groceries, O Organics has enabled families to consistently enjoy high-quality, organic meals at affordable prices for nearly two decades. With a focus on great taste and health, O Organics offers an extensive range of options for budget-conscious consumers.

O Organics launched in 2005 with 150 USDA Certified Organic products but now offers over 1,500 items, from organic fresh fruits and vegetables to organic dairy and meats, organic cage-free certified eggs, organic snacks, organic baby food and more. This gives families the ability to make a broader range of recipes featuring organic ingredients than ever before.


“We believe every customer should have access to affordable, organic options that support healthy lifestyles and diverse shopping preferences,” shared Jennifer Saenz, EVP and Chief Merchandising Officer at Albertsons, one of many stores where you can find O Organics products. “Over the years, we have made organic foods more accessible by expanding O Organics to every aisle across our stores, making it possible for health and budget-conscious families to incorporate organic food into every meal.”

With some help from our friends at O Organics, Upworthy looked at the vast array of products available at our local store and created some tasty, affordable and healthy meals.

Here are 3 meals for a family of 4 that cost $7 and under, per serving. (Note: prices may vary by location and are calculated before sales tax.)

O Organic’s Tacos and Refried Beans ($6.41 Per Serving)

Few dishes can make a family rush to the dinner table quite like tacos. Here’s a healthy and affordable way to spice up your family’s Taco Tuesdays.

Prep time: 2 minutes

Cook time: 20 minutes

Total time: 22 minutes

Ingredients:

1 lb of O Organics Grass Fed Ground Beef ($7.99)

1 packet O Organics Taco Seasoning ($2.29)

O Organics Mexican-Style Cheese Blend Cheese ($4.79)

O Organics Chunky Salsa ($3.99)

O Organics Taco Shells ($4.29)

1 can of O Organics Refried Beans ($2.29)

Instructions:

1. Cook the ground beef in a skillet over medium heat until thoroughly browned; remove any excess grease.

2. Add 1 packet of taco seasoning to beef along with water [and cook as directed].

3. Add taco meat to the shell, top with cheese and salsa as desired.

4. Heat refried beans in a saucepan until cooked through, serve alongside tacos, top with cheese.

tacos, o organics, family recipesO Organics Mexican-style blend cheese.via O Organics

O Organics Hamburger Stew ($4.53 Per Serving)

Busy parents will love this recipe that allows them to prep in the morning and then serve a delicious, slow-cooked stew after work.

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 7 hours

Total time: 7 hours 15 minutes

Servings: 4

Ingredients:

1 lb of O Organics Grass Fed Ground Beef ($7.99)

1 ½ lbs O Organics Gold Potatoes ($4.49)

3 O Organics Carrots ($2.89)

1 tsp onion powder

I can O Organics Tomato Paste ($1.25)

2 cups water

1 yellow onion diced ($1.00)

1 clove garlic ($.50)

1 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper

2 tsp Italian seasoning or oregano

Instructions:

1. Cook the ground beef in a skillet over medium heat until thoroughly browned; remove any excess grease.

2. Transfer the cooked beef to a slow cooker with the potatoes, onions, carrots and garlic.

3. Mix the tomato paste, water, salt, pepper, onion powder and Italian seasoning in a separate bowl.

4. Drizzle the mixed sauce over the ingredients in the slow cooker and mix thoroughly.

5. Cover the slow cooker with its lid and set it on low for 7 to 8 hours, or until the potatoes are soft. Dish out into bowls and enjoy!

potatoes, o organics, hamburger stewO Organics baby gold potatoes.via O Organics


O Organics Ground Beef and Pasta Skillet ($4.32 Per Serving)

This one-pan dish is for all Italian lovers who are looking for a saucy, cheesy, and full-flavored comfort dish that takes less than 30 minutes to prepare.

Prep time: 2 minutes

Cook time: 25 minutes

Total time: 27 minutes

Servings: 4

Ingredients:

1 lb of O Organics Grass Fed Ground Beef ($7.99)

1 tbsp. olive oil

2 tsp dried basil

1 tsp garlic powder

1 can O Organics Diced Tomatoes ($2.00)

1 can O Organics Tomato Sauce ($2.29)

1 tbsp O Organics Tomato Paste ($1.25)

2 1/4 cups water

2 cups O Organics Rotini Pasta ($3.29)

1 cup O Organics Mozzarella cheese ($4.79)

Instructions:

1. Brown ground beef in a skillet, breaking it up as it cooks.

2. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and garlic powder

3. Add tomato paste, sauce and diced tomatoes to the skillet. Stir in water and bring to a light boil.

4. Add pasta to the skillet, ensuring it is well coated. Cover and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

5. Remove the lid, sprinkle with cheese and allow it to cool.

o organics, tomato basil pasta sauce, olive oilO Organics tomato basil pasta sauce and extra virgin olive oil.via O Organics

Image from Wikimedia Commons.

Van Gogh’s Starry Night.


Van Gogh never got to enjoy his own historic success as an artist (even though we've been able to imagine what that moment might have looked like). But it turns out that those of us who have appreciated his work have been missing out on some critical details for more than 100 years.

I'm not easily impressed, OK?

I know Van Gogh was a genius. If the point of this were "Van Gogh was a mad genius," I would not be sharing this with you.

But I found this and I thought, "Oh, what a vaguely interesting thing." And then I got to the part about the Hubble Space Telescope, and, let me tell you: Mind. Blown.

We've got the set up here, but you have to watch the video for the full effect. It's all the way at the bottom.

Get this: Van Gogh was a pretty cool artist (duh), but as it turns out...

painting, science, psychotic

What’s the truth behind when you take off an ear?

assets.rebelmouse.io

...he was also A SCIENTIST!*

*Pretty much.

Here's the story.

While Van Gogh was in an asylum in France, after he mutilated his ear during a psychotic episode*...

(*Or, and I'd like to thank the entire Internet for pointing this out, there's a theory that his friend Paul Gauguin actually cut off his ear, in a drunken sword fight, in the dark. The more you know!)

science, premonition, predictions

Animated a thinking one-eared Van Gogh.

All Van Gogh GIFs via TED-Ed.

...he was able to capture one of science's most elusive concepts:

~~~TURBULENCE~~~

research, studied, proof, genius

Animated "Starry Night."

assets.rebelmouse.io

turbulence, fluid dynamics, energy cascade

Turbulence expressed through art.

assets.rebelmouse.io

Although it's hard to understand with math (like, REALLY HARD), it turns out that art makes it easy to depict how it LOOKS.

So what is turbulence?

Turbulence, or turbulent flow, is a concept of fluid dynamics where fluid movements are "self-similar" when there's an energy cascade — so basically, big eddies make smaller eddies, and those make even smaller ones ... and so on and so forth.

It looks like this:

figures, explanation, education, community

Pictures explain science.

assets.rebelmouse.io

See? It's easier to look at pictures to understand it.

Thing is, scientists are pretty much *just* starting to figure this stuff out.

reference, research, wisdom

Animation of referencing art to science.

assets.rebelmouse.io

Then you've got Van Gogh, 100 years earlier, in his asylum, with a mutilated ear, who totally nailed it!

illumination, luminance, pulsing

Science studying Van Gogh.

assets.rebelmouse.io

The folks who noticed Van Gogh's ability to capture turbulence checked to see whether other artists did the same. Most impressionists achieved " luminance" with their art (which is the sort-of *pulsing* you see when you look at their paintings that really shows what light looks like).

But did other artists depict turbulence the way Van Gogh did?

NOPE.

The Scream, historical, popular, famous

Animated “The Scream."

assets.rebelmouse.io

Not even "The Scream" could hold a candle to Van Gogh!

technology, star turbulence, sky, astronomy

Capturing concepts of nature.

assets.rebelmouse.io

Even in his darkest time, Van Gogh was able to capture — eerily accurately — one of nature's most complex and confusing concepts ... 100 years before scientists had the technology to observe actual star turbulence and realize its similarity to fluid turbulence mathematics as well as Van Gogh's swirling sky. Cool, huh?

Watch the video below to learn even more:

This article originally appeared on 11.14.24

Images provided by P&G

Three winners will be selected to receive $1000 donated to the charity of their choice.

True

Doing good is its own reward, but sometimes recognizing these acts of kindness helps bring even more good into the world. That’s why we’re excited to partner with P&G again on the #ActsOfGood Awards.

The #ActsOfGood Awards recognize individuals who actively support their communities. It could be a rockstar volunteer, an amazing community leader, or someone who shows up for others in special ways.

Do you know someone in your community doing #ActsOfGood? Nominate them between April 24th-June 3rdhere.Three winners will receive $1,000 dedicated to the charity of their choice, plus their story will be highlighted on Upworthy’s social channels. And yes, it’s totally fine to nominate yourself!

We want to see the good work you’re doing and most of all, we want to help you make a difference.

While every good deed is meaningful, winners will be selected based on how well they reflect Upworthy and P&G’s commitment to do #ActsOfGood to help communities grow.

That means be on the lookout for individuals who:

Strengthen their community

Make a tangible and unique impact

Go above and beyond day-to-day work

The #ActsOfGood Awards are just one part of P&G’s larger mission to help communities around the world to grow. For generations, P&G has been a force for growth—making everyday products that people love and trust—while also being a force for good by giving back to the communities where we live, work, and serve consumers. This includes serving over 90,000 people affected by emergencies and disasters through the Tide Loads of Hope mobile laundry program and helping some of the millions of girls who miss school due to a lack of access to period products through the Always #EndPeriodPoverty initiative.

Visit upworthy.com/actsofgood and fill out the nomination form for a chance for you or someone you know to win. It takes less than ten minutes to help someone make an even bigger impact.

Man reads delightfully unhinged Haribo sugar-free gummy bear reviews

People switch to sugar free things for a variety of reasons. Sometimes it's to be more health conscious by reducing their sugar intake and other times it's because they have a form of diabetes that requires very limited sugar. If you're a person that likes sweets who is embarking on cutting back, you might turn to a childhood favorite–gummy bears.

In case you haven't seen the adorable commercial where adults turn into kids after eating the sweet treat, Haribo makes gummy bears. The Haribo company also makes a sugar-free version of the squishy little bears but be warned: do not eat more than a few at a time.

Daniel Ferguson decided to read the "unhinged Amazon reviews" for the sugar-free gummy bears and he did not disappoint. Each review gets more uncomfortably hilarious as he shuffles through his index of character voices to share the details. Apparently there are some disagreements down below that happen should you eat them like a regular pack of gummy bears.


First up is his impression of Iago from "Aladdin" where he reads off a descriptive review about someone feeling like someone was trying to funnel Niagara Falls through a straw. Commenters could not get enough of of his impressions, the reviews or their own horror stories from the sugar-free treat.

"Ate an entire bag of these without knowing the side effects. My sister could hear my stomach churning in another room. After a few hours I just stayed within feet of the bathroom. They are like drano for your own intestines if drano violently unclogged drains," one person writes.

"Kronk always going last is not a coincidence. The rest of the impressions are exceptional, but we're all here for the Kronk," someone says.

"This is so unhinged, but I love every second of it," another laughs.

If you've learned nothing else from his delightfully unhinged reading of reviews, you've learned to never over do it on the sugar-free gummy bears.

@variety/TikTok

The way Brunson comforted Aniston speaks volumes.


For those not familiar with Variety's “Actors on Actors,” it’s a live interview series where two actors discuss various aspects of their craft and career. Often, actors will be paired together because of a common thread. Margot Robbie and Cillian Murphy during the height of Barbenheimer, for example. Or Anne Hathaway and Emily Blunt—both from “The Devil Wears Prada.”

So it’s no surprise that two comedy queens, Jennifer Aniston and Quinta Brunson, would be paired together for the latest “Actors on Actors” segment. What people are astounded by, however, is the way Brunson handled a very serious moment.

At one point during the conversation, a producer off camera suggested that Brunson ask Aniston “what it’s like to watch ‘Friends’ now.”

This clearly struck a chord with Aniston, who, already tearing up, said “don’t make me cry.”

Noticing this Brunson said in a soft voice, “You’re already crying. Do you want a minute?,” before assuring her “We don’t have to talk about [this].”

@varietymagazine Jennifer Aniston gets emotional when asked about "Friends." #ActorsOnActors ♬ original sound - Variety

Tilting her head up to not let the tears fall, Aniston replied “No, no, sorry, I just started thinking about...” before Brunson quickly said “I know. Yeah.”

It’s evident that Aniston’s emotional reaction is triggered by the loss of her former “Friends” cast mate Matthew Perry, who died October 28, 2023. The pair’s friendship remained strong even after the show ended in 2004—Perry even revealed that Aniston was the member of their group who reached out to him “the most” during his sobriety journey.

All this to say, Aniston was understandably triggered by the question. Brunson saw that, and acted accordingly. She once again offered “we don’t have to talk about it,” waited while Aniston grabbed a tissue to compose herself, then masterfully guided the conversation to a joke.

“So, Jen, ‘Friends’ is turning 30…and you are turning 30…When you were a baby on that show, you were so advanced…your fine motor skills were insane”

Viewers applauded the “Abbott Elementary” star for “taking care” of Aniston’s emotional wellbeing.

”Quinta gets props for saying to Jennifer, ‘We don’t have to go there if you don’t want to.’ I get why the producers were trying to create that buzzworthy moment, but I also appreciate Quinta’s willingness to derail it for Jennifer’s sake,” one person wrote on Youtube

“Quinta’s little ‘I know’ — it was so simple but so kind and empathetic,” added another.

Over on TikTok, comments were just as complimentary.

“Quinta handled this masterfully,” wrote one person.

Another echoed, “How Quinta handled that- that’s why she’s where she’s at.”

Seeing people take care of one another never gets old.

You can watch the full conversation between Brunson and Aniston below:


A young girl relaxing in an inner tube.


There’s a popular trend where parents often share they are creating “core memories” for their children on social media posts, whether it’s planning an elaborate vacation or creating an extra-special holiday moment.

While it’s important for parents to want their kids to have happy childhoods, sometimes it feels presumptuous when they believe they can manufacture a core memory. Especially when a child’s inner world is so much different than an adult's.

Carol Kim, a mother of 3 and licensed Marriage and family Therapist, known as ParentingResilience on Instagram, recently shared the “5 Things Kids Will Remember from Their Childhood” on her page. The fascinating insight is that none of the entries had to do with extravagant vacations, over-the-top birthday parties, or Christmas gifts that kids could only dream about.


According to Kim, the five things that kids will remember all revolve around their parents' presence and support. "Notice how creating good memories doesn’t require expensive toys or lavish family trips. Your presence is the most valuable present you can give to your child,” Kim wrote in the post’s description.

1. Quality time together

"Taking some time to focus only on your child is very special. Playing games, reading books, or just talking can create strong, happy memories. These moments show your child that you are present with them."

2. Words of encouragement

"Encouraging words can greatly impact your child during both good times and tough times. Kids often seek approval from their parents and your positive words can be a strong motivator and source of comfort.... It can help kids believe in themselves, giving them the confidence to take on new challenges and keep going when things get tough."

parenting, core memories, quality time

A mother and child riding a small bike.

via Gustavo Fring/Pexels

3. Family traditions

“It creates a feeling of stability and togetherness … Family traditions make children feel like they belong and are part of a larger story, deepening their sense of security and understanding of family identity and values.”

4. Acts of kindness

“Seeing and doing kind things leaves a strong impression on children. It shows them the importance of being kind and caring. They remember how good it feels to help others and to see their parents helping too.”

5. Comfort during tough times

"Knowing they can rely on you during tough times makes them feel secure and build trust. … Comforting them when they're struggling shows them they are loved no matter what, helping them feel emotionally secure and strong."

parenting, core memories, quality time

A family making a meal together.

via Elina Fairytale/Pexels

Kim’s strategies are all beautiful ways to be present in our children’s lives and to communicate our support. However, these seemingly simple behaviors can be challenging for some parents who are dealing with issues stemming from their pasts.

“If you find barriers to providing these things, it’s important to reflect on why,” Kim writes in the post. “There could be several reasons, such as parenting in isolation (we’re not meant to parent alone), feeling overstimulated, dealing with past trauma, or struggling with mental health. Recognizing these challenges is the first step to addressing them and finding support.”

Identity

Cardiff man helps homeless women after they were refused water at McDonald’s

“I’m no saint, but this small act of kindness cost me about £20.”

Jonathon Pengelly and Polly.

It goes without saying that water is a basic human right that should never be denied to anyone. So when a homeless woman named Polly in Cardiff, Wales, was refused a drink at her local McDonald's recently, a good Samaritan wouldn't stand for it.

Jonathon Pengelly couldn't believe his eyes when the cashier told the woman no. "I don't know what was going through their minds but a lady, clearly homeless was asking for a basic human right; and for a multi-billion pound company, for them to say no is disgusting!" Pengelly wrote on Facebook.

Pengelly was behind the woman in line, so he offered to buy her and her friend something to eat and was shocked at Polly's response.

"She asked for a single cheeseburger and that was it," Pengelly said. "We bought as much as we could carry so I knew she wasn't going to be hungry." He then sat and ate with them and was blown away by their positive attitudes. So he brought them back to his house, where they showered and brushed their teeth. While they cleaned up, Pengelly prepared some food to tide the women over for a few days.


Pengelly posted about the evening's events on Facebook to raise awareness about the problem of homelessness in the U.K. "I'm no saint, but this small act of kindness cost me about £20," he wrote. "I know 90% of people reading this will earn about 10 times that a day. … If you see someone on the streets, don't look down on them like they're nothing. You don't know what they've been though! Spare a little thought!"

Pengelly's experience didn't just open up his eyes to a real problem, he made a friend as well. "Me and Polly have chatted on the phone and I've promised her that she will never go hungry or cold again!" he said.

Here's Pengelly's full post:

"Well, my night took an unexpected turn! So I finished my night out, ended up in the dreaded McDonald's queue. I couldn't help but notice the lady in front me, all she asked for was a cup of hot water.

The member of staff told her no. I don't know what was going through their mind but a lady, clearly homeless was asking for a basic human right; and for a multi billion pound company, for them to say no is disgusting!

My heart was shattered! So I spoke to her and told her to order what she wanted, expecting her to order everything. I was so shocked. She asked for a single cheese burger and that was it. We bought as much as we could carry so I knew she wasn't going to be hungry.

I couldn't just leave this lady go, she was so warming and so lovely. So I sat with her, on the cold hard floor, in the middle of winter and you know what I did? I cried my eyes out.

You know if people of Cardiff walked passed them and didn't do anything because, financially, they weren't in the position, I would understand. But people walked passed and laughed at them. I don't care who you are, If this was you; and you're reading this I hate you!

When I got to speak to them I was genuinely shocked at their story and how educated they were! So full of life and enthusiasm and they literally have nothing!

I invited polly and her mate back to my house and we all cooked enough food to feed them and their friends for the next few nights. We boxed them up and packed them in their bags.

Polly and her mate have had showers, brushed their teeth and they both said they have ever felt so appreciated in their life.
I'm no saint, but this small act of kindness cost me about £20. I know 90% of people reading this will earn about 10 times that a day.

It costs nothing to be kind, and I genuinely hope people share this to raise awareness of homelessness throughout the UK!
Me and polly have chatted on the phone and I've promised her that she will never go hungry or cold again! I've given her blankets, pillows and a backpack full of food.

If you see someone on the streets, don't look down on them like they're nothing. You don't know what they've been though! spare a little thought!

I don't care if I look like shit cause I'm crying!

Polly, you've changed me!"


This article originally appeared on 08.10.18