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 Should the Holocaust be taught in grade school?

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Join date : 2009-02-18

PostSubject: Should the Holocaust be taught in grade school?   Mon Mar 16, 2009 9:25 pm


The article that interested me spoke of whether it was apprpriate to teach the lessons of the Holocaust in grade school. In this case it was fifth graders in the country of France. President Nicolas Sarkozy revised the school curriculum in that he wanted every fifth grader to learn the lifestory of one french child who was killed by the Nazis. It was relevant to me because recently I had learned that my ten year old neice was learning about the holocaust in her school. She had learned that I was taking a course on the same subject and had told her grandmother that she had questions for me the next time I saw her. I obviously don't no to the extent of how much is talked about in grade school but wondered on how much would be appropriate. I agree that it is important to learn and shouild never be forgotten but wondered on how you teach a subject like that without getting very close to the question of murder and death. This I would believe would be to much for someone that age to appropriately digest or handle. In the article it spoke of two descending opinions of whether it should be taught at that age. A Holocaust survivor Simane Veile responded with " You cannot inflict this on little ones of 10 years old! You cannot ask a child to identify with a dead child. The weight of this memory is much to heavy to bear." A Jewish historian who had devoted his life to recording experiences of France Holocaust victims had praise for the presidents decision. The article also gave examples of how kids are exposed to alot of scary content in movies and television and this somehow would be comparable. It also compared it to students in the United States taking trips to the Holocaust museum. During this trip they would be most likely handed pamphlets which gave indication to the amount of death and casualities during the Holocaust. My personal opinion is that kids probably are exposed to horrible content within movies but have an understanding that it is a movie. I also think even with that knowledge its probably not a good thing to have them casually watching content that would be considered extreme. The Holocaust was real and its story needs to be told to what extent to me depends on the age. The message to me is for children to learn about others differences and backgrounds. This knowledge would help to knock down barriers between everyone and provide toleration of all perceived differences within certain groups. I think that would be an important lesson to teach a group of students at a grade school age.
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PostSubject: Re: Should the Holocaust be taught in grade school?   Tue Mar 17, 2009 5:39 pm

This is an important issue and one that I've spent a good bit of time thinking about ... what is the appropriate age to begin talking about events such as the Holocaust with students?

As you know, I spent many years teaching in middle and high schools and I think the answer is "it depends" (great answer, huh?). There is much to consider - for example, who are your students? What prior experience do they have? what are they hearing at home?, how much is the content a matter of their "national history" (students in Germany or Israel) ... the list goes on and on ....

I used a children's book in my high school classes at one point titled Hiroshima No Pika (The Flash of Hiroshima) - it's the story of a young girl and her family during the bombing of Hiroshima ... it was originally written for first graders in Japan ... If you take a look at the book, you'll find the content emotionally difficult for 1st graders - but, in Japan, it's important to teach students this history at a young age .. as the history is all around them ...

Also, I think if you are going to teach the history of the Holocaust to young students ... you better know what you're doing and why you're doing it ... the idea of simply shocking students is a VERY BAD IDEA ... for example, you wouldn't show Night and Fog to a group of middle schoolers ... what would the point be??? I think you need to be very careful with images and video, as you know, it's quite disturbing to us, and imagine what it's like if you were 10 ...

Ok ... clearly this one hit a nerve with me - I've gone on way too long ... I'm interested in what some of you thing?
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PostSubject: Re: Should the Holocaust be taught in grade school?   Thu Mar 19, 2009 4:02 pm

I actually was taught about the Holocaust in great detail when I was in 4th grade, to the extent that many parents were outwardly concerned and upset. We learned about slavery in great detail, about the holocaust in great detail. I remember sitting at lunch with some girls in my class and just being outraged and upset at what we heard people doing to other people. I don't think we understood it fully, didn't understand racism and prejudice fully yet. She would sit us down on a rug and in a story time setting we would discuss the many ways people were mistreated. My teacher won a noble prize I believe (hearing this as a youth.. maybe it was pultizer... whats her name...) for humanitarian work, so none of the parents really protested.

I do remember it being really intense to me, which kind of made the message stick. We didn't go into detail about propaganda, or how this came about, that I can remember of course, but focused more on why it was wrong to people, of any sort. I can say that year shaped how I saw cliques, prejudices, racism, really any judgment of peers or other people, but it did so by shocking me out of blissful ignorance of it all. My parents probably hated it because I asked many more questions, but... in the end... I'd say it was a good thing.

I'll try to remember my teachers name. I broke my writing hand's wrist that year, and got a bright green cast, and almost failed due to poor handwriting... my Dad went in to discuss with her and she said she didn't realize my wrist was broken... Maybe she is just a crazy lady who wanted to scare the crap out of us kids. Who know Smile
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PostSubject: Re: Should the Holocaust be taught in grade school?   Thu Mar 19, 2009 4:13 pm

That does sound pretty intense ... but it does sound like she had meaningful discussions with you and your class ... that's important ... that the information isn't just left on the table, that there's time to process and work through it ...

and in my opinion ... any class or teacher that forces you to ask questions rather than simply accept what he or she says ... is doing good work.
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PostSubject: Re: Should the Holocaust be taught in grade school?   Fri Mar 20, 2009 12:06 am

I learned about the Holocaust for the first time in 6th grade, when I was 12. I think it is important for kids to learn about since most people by that age can begin to understand how others their age must have felt, and, though it has major significance, I think 10 is definitely too young. It would need to be taught at a level that the majority of students could understand due to the harrowing subject matter.
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PostSubject: Re: Should the Holocaust be taught in grade school?   Sun Mar 22, 2009 4:29 pm

The holocaust should be taught schools it is part of WW2 history. I agree that this should be taught at a reasonable age to children. When I first learned about the Holocaust I bought the book The Diary of Anne Frank. Learning about the Holocaust I feel is very powerful because it shows how human life is so precious and how it was taken away from people so quickly.
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