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Memory and Responsibility: Project 180, Day 64


Yes, we read Night to know.  Of course, we read Night to empathize. But most of all, we read Night to remember.  In the end that is what I want from and for my kids; I want to give them the opportunity to honor memory–Elie’s memory, every memory from the Holocaust. And for that, I want their commitment. For this, especially, I do not want their compliance. Sadly, it was not always so. For even as recently as last year, I sought their commitment through compliance, giving a difficult final to reward the compliant and punish the non. Alas, I own the sins of my past. But this year is different. Vastly. No test. No compliance. No grade. Only commitment.

Last week we began our experience with Night by focusing on the above passage from the preface. I asked the kids to be witnesses to memory, to honor the gift of Elie’s testimony. Yesterday, I presented the “Memory Pledge” as a means to influence my kids’ motivation to read the book. In the preface, Elie speaks, too, of responsibility, sharing that he was often asked about the response to Auschwitz. He said that he did not know.  But what he did know is that “response” is in responsibility. And, as a witness, it was his responsibility to testify, to share his memory, so we would not forget. And so, now, we too have a responsibility. To read. To remember. We read Night to remember.

And it is for that, first and foremost, that I ask for my kids’ commitment. But I ask for more, too. I have asked them to keep dialectical journals as they read, journals that we will use to generate our discussion after each third of the book. I will also ask them to write an essay at the end of the unit. And I have asked them to begin thinking of a Memory Project idea that they will complete as a team to honor the victims of the Holocaust. They have their work cut out for them, but I hope they see beyond the chore. I hope they embrace the responsibility.

Happy Tuesday, all.

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