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about learntoquestion

an online extension is a student-created website accompanying a yearlong course in twentieth-century global history at Boston Latin School in Boston, Massachusetts. The site, first created in 1999, emerged from the creation of a new course at the School, Facing History and Ourselves.   At its inception, the course was one of the first yearlong courses of its kind at a public high school in this nation. 


Sheldon Seevak, a Boston Latin graduate from the class of 1946, along with his wife Elinor enabled the school to create the course and endow the teacher's position for the course. The course focuses on a range of topics, originating in a study of identity, to the practice of othering, discrimination, prejudice, and marginalization, and the escalation from those stages to war, racism, ethnic cleansing, and genocide. It poses essential questions about what individuals can do to change the course of history and to make important, significant differences in society.


In tandem with the course, the learntoquestion website was created to serve several functions. Its primary goal has been to extend the classroom experience far beyond the walls of any given room through virtual lessons, narratives of the classroom experience, archives of student work and primary and secondary source materials for use in relation to the content of the course, and interactive discussion boards. It has become a rich repository of materials and the site has grown exponentially each year.


site organization

Today, the learntoquestion site is divided into several principal sections: the Boston Latin School Facing History course, travel related to the course, the Seevak and Topol Fellowship programs, and assorted educational resources. 


The section of the site related to the Boston Latin School Facing History course contains current and archived discussions related to the course  and selected samples of work produced by students.


The travel section of the site documents experiences that students enjoy annually during course-related trips, including those to Washington, D.C., New York City, and Eastern Europe.    It also features a section on the global civic obligation + responsibility initiative that began in 2020-2021.  


The two fellowship programs open to students who have taken the course—the Seevak Human Rights and Social Justice Fellowships (2009-present) and Topol Fellowships in Peace and Nonviolence (2016-present)—are chronicled.


The resources section includes two virtual lessons created in the first decade of the 21st century.   These lessons are devoted to historical truth and another devoted to propaganda, with a particular focus on propaganda in Nazi Germany.   Also included in the resource section is a database of materials related to the curriculum covered in the course at Boston Latin School.  


Also featured on this site are "about" sections devoted to “about learntoquestion,” "about Sheldon Seevak," and "about Boston Latin School."  


Archived on the site are records related to the Seevak website competition (1998-2012), resulting in remarkable student-generated websites on individuals and/or groups who have made a substantial difference in society.   

Click here to learn more about the creators of and the design thinking behind the learntoquestion site.   

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