They took a study trip to Germany for American social studies teachers from California, which was sponsored by Atlantik-Brücke, or Atlantic Bridge, an association that promotes German-American understanding.
The program Bartosiak and Kolodinski took part in allows instructors who teach about the Holocaust to experience modern Germany and how it has changed since the end of World War II. Twelve teachers from California were chosen for the program this year.
Bartosiak and Kolodinski visited Berlin, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Hanover and Kiel during the program and met German dignitaries. Representatives from the California Department of Education were also there to talk with German officials, Bartosiak said.
Bartosiak said learning from and conversing with people in a country trying to squash stereotypes that still linger from World War II helped his teaching skills.
He hopes students will understand democracy is not a given, he said.
“I want them to realize that Germany was a country that was extremely powerful in the late 20th century, and they were easily changed to a system that wasn’t a democracy,” he said.
Teaching students to be active citizens — and about the political process, government and history — is part of a teacher’s job, he said. And in his view, pride in one’s country’s political system is greatly needed, especially when global leaders are not setting the best examples.
“We teach our kids in school don’t fight, but what do countries do? They do exactly what we teach them not to do,” Bartosiak said.
Glendale Unified School District adheres tightly to state-mandated teaching standards for the most part, he said, but there are some things he can add to students’ education. That may be one reason why Bartosiak received the 2006 Nobel Educator of Distinction award.