History Department Hosts Teach-in on Ukraine

By now, most people have seen the horrifying scenes coming out of Ukraine, a country at war defending itself against invasion. However, how many people in America actually know Ukraine, understand the roots of this conflict or even know the facts about Putin? These are questions the History Department set out to address by hosting a teach-in for all Upper School students and all Parker faculty and staff.

“We have done this in the past when a major crisis or historical event is happening,” Upper School History Department Chair Andy Bigelow said. “Some years, we have been asked by the student government, admin and our kids. It is something I think we do well as a department, as we all bring a different perspective and skill set to the table as we create our presentations.” Joining Bigelow were Upper School history colleagues Dan Greenstone, Dr. Otis Pope, Susan Elliott, Kevin Conlon and Jeanne Barr for an extremely informative presentation. They began with an introduction to the current situation, explaining its 1991 roots, Putin’s goals and desires for Ukraine and some immediate reactions and responses to this invasion. The History Department then explained Ukraine’s geography, the role Ukraine played in the Cold War and the fall of the Soviet Union and Ukraine’s overwhelming support for its own independence. The teachers explained NATO’s role in the current crisis, Ukraine’s circumstances of being pulled between Europe and Russia and Europe’s response to the invasion. Finally, they talked about Vladimir Putin, his history and the rise the current state of “Putinism” in Russia.

Those in attendance left this teach-in with a greater understanding of Ukraine and the steps that led to the current invasion. “What a long and complicated history Ukraine has endured,” some thought. While this event was extremely informative, the very real and scary events are still playing out in real time across Ukraine. “I wish I could be hopeful here, yet the antagonist is ruthless and is not slowing down,” Bigelow admitted. “My heart goes out to Ukraine, and I hope NATO, as well as the EU, will do even more to stop Putin, who does not represent the will of the Russian people.”

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Francis W. Parker School educates students to think and act with empathy, courage and clarity as responsible citizens and leaders in a diverse democratic society and global community.