A Pail of Oysters and A Big Project on Transitional Justice

posted Oct 28, 2018, 2:46 AM by Jason Brunken
A major topic going forward in class this year is transitional justice. Transitional justice are the actions countries take to address large-scale human and civil rights abuses in order for groups to go forward living in peace. If that confuses you, think of Germany after WWII and what had to be done to help victims of the Nazi terror and former Nazis to live together in a peaceful democratic country. Other countries like South Africa, Colombia, Costa Rica, and even Taiwan have had to address transitional justice in one way or another. It is essential to a healthy democracy. 

As we finished our first unit, we looked at ways that South Africa began the transitional justice process after the end of Apartheid. I gave a lesson and asked the students to think carefully about the purposes, objectives, and components of transitional justice. This was in preparation for a new unit and a very big project.

This week we began our new unit. We are reading Vern Sneider's A Pail of Oysters. This book is set in Taiwan in the 1950's. If you know anything about Taiwan's history, you know this wasn't a very good time for most people in Taiwan. Following an uprising calling for reform in the KMT government led by Chiang Kai-shek was answered by a violent crackdown that left tens of thousands dead and many more in prison, Taiwan entered a period of martial law that lasted until 1987. Sneider's book looks at how many Taiwanese were forced to live and how opposed to reform the government was. For years, this book was illegal in Taiwan, but now it has been re-published and we are free to read it thanks to the strides Taiwan has made in freedom and democracy. 

Students have been given a big project that will constitute the bulk of this unit. Their task: develop an effective transitional justice plan for Taiwan. You can read the details of the project here. Tasks they will need to complete in this project are:
  • Research and develop an outline
  • Summarize an interview of a grandparent about the time period
  • Use their research to develop a proposal for transitional justice
  • Promote their proposal by making a YouTube video or composing an essay to send to President Tsai
  • When it's all done, write a short reflection paper
I can't wait to see how the kids do with this project. I hope their plans for transitional justice will help Taiwan which is still in the process of transitional justice for the abuses from the time period we enter in A Pail of Oysters. Assignment sheets are below to view.


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