Facing History and Ourselves

An Evidence-Based Practice


Facing History and Ourselves (FHAO) is a professional development program for educators that helps them foster the healthy moral development and psychological functioning of their junior and senior high school students (grades 7-12). The program trains teachers how to engage diverse students in discussions about the historical development and legacies of collective violence and intergroup conflict, as a means of fostering critical thinking and moral, responsible, and civic decision-making.

At FHAO workshops and institutes, teachers receive in-depth training, individualized follow-up support, and other classroom resources. Training includes techniques to facilitate open discussions of sensitive subject matter in the classroom and the development of individualized curricula for each trainee. Each curriculum includes readings from an FHAO text, films, FHAO study guides, guest speakers, and literature readings on subject matter such as the Holocaust, eugenics, and the Armenian genocide. Student courses typically last a semester and are attached to a social studies, history, English, art, or interdisciplinary curriculum. FHAO staff recommend that teachers, school administrators, and school librarians form teams to implement the curriculum.

Goal / Mission

Facing History and Ourselves (FHAO) is a classroom intervention aimed at creating a more humane and informed citizenry in an increasingly diverse society. The objectives for students are to expand their knowledge of history, improve their critical thinking skills, encourage thinking about their roles in and responsibilities to society and community, and increase their awareness of issues of racism, antisemitism, social justice, and democratic participation. For teachers, the program fosters professional development, collegial relationships, and the enhancement of teaching skills.

Results / Accomplishments

The evaluation results show significant impacts on intervention group students relative to comparison group students, including increased engagement with issues, decreased fighting behavior, decreased racist attitudes, increased interest in other ethnic groups, and increased relationship maturity (interpersonal understanding, negotiation, and personal meaning). Though the evaluation lacked a follow-up study at 1 or 2 years, there was a positive finding of a strong trend in the reduction in self-reported fighting and positive effects related to risk and protective factors; this trend bolstered both the efficacy of the program and the validity of the underlying theoretical base.

About this Promising Practice

Primary Contact
Terry Tollefson
Facing History and Ourselves, National Office
16 Hurd Road
Brookline, MA 02445
(617) 232-1595
Education / School Resources
Social Environment / Social Tolerance
Facing History and Ourselves
The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention's Model Programs Guide (MPG)
Date of publication
Target Audience