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Is the Holocaust off limits?

Hilander

Free Spirit
Staff member
V.I.P.
RIALTO, Calif. -- The school board of a Southern California district where students were told to write an essay on whether they believe the Holocaust really happened said at a packed public meeting Wednesday night that it was a "horribly inappropriate" assignment for which the board takes "full responsibility."

Furor over school essay assignment questioning whether Holocaust happened - CBS News
These 8th grade students were issued an assignment over if the holocaust was real or a political scheme to influence people.

Mind you the school isn't teaching that it didn't happen. They want these kids to give their own opinions about it after doing research.

Now a lot of people are up in arms about it and the school has backed down from issuing this as an assignment.

Should this assignment be off limits? Should discussing if this was real or fake always be off limits?

Thoughts?
 

Taliesin

Registered Member
No, the Holocaust is not off limits, and there was absolutely nothing wrong with the given assignment. What is wrong is that by reacting the way that they have, they're teaching the children in that school that it's not okay for them to research things, or to form their own conclusions using their own logic and thought processes. That's what's wrong here.

In no way are the people giving the assignment saying that the Holocaust never happened (there's more than ample proof that it did). They're merely trying to get the students to start thinking for themselves about very important issues. Critical thinking is a vitally important thing to learn, and if they're not learning that at school then what good is that school really? They may as well learn to be parrots then, and just repeat what everyone else wants them to repeat.

I do comprehend that the Holocaust is a sensitive subject for many people, especially for those who went through it and their families and friends. It's certainly not something to be taken lightly, but I don't think the question as asked was in any way wrong or insensitive. If anything, I'd be more concerned with that unnamed man who made the death threats against some of the school officials.
 

Hilander

Free Spirit
Staff member
V.I.P.
I think it was stupid making death threats over this. I hope they arrest this man because that was much worse than that assignment.

I agree I think the school was doing was just trying to get them to think for themselves. If they do learn to do that they would see the evidence points towards that the holocaust happened.

I know its a sensitive subject for the Jewish people and I respect that but its not like they were trying to teach it didn't happen.
 

Merc

Certified Shitlord
V.I.P.
I have never in my life understood Holocaust denial. I don't think this was "horribly" inappropriate but I believe an 8th grade class is an inappropriate party to ask of this assignment. People also tend to forget, this was not a 'Jewish' tragedy either, millions of people died and a lot of them were not Jews.
 

brikaben

Registered Member
To be quite honest I agree with everything Taliesin said and don't feel the need to add anything to that.
 

idisrsly

I'm serious
V.I.P.
The problem I see with this assignment is the immediate suggestion that it could have been a hoax, as such, or political plot. I don't think the Holocaust should be off limits for discussion, but when telling kids they have to discuss whether it happened or not, you're planting a seed that perhaps it didn't happen.

I just think it would have been better just giving them an assignment to discuss the Holocaust, rather than give them direction on to discuss whether it happened or not. Does that make sense?
 

CaptainObvious

Son of Liberty
V.I.P.
I agree with Tal about critical thinking, but what bothers me is looking at it from the point of view "did it happen". It wasn't some crazy hoax manufactured by people, it did happen. I wouldn't mind a research assignment about the Holocaust itself, what happened, it's implications, it's effect on society now, whatever, but not whether it actually happened or not.
 

Cait

Oh, poppycock.
NO. NO! NO!

Oh god. This is why kids lack empathy, because they're just plain ignorant to no (Well, little to no) fault of their own. I have had fourth graders ask me what the big deal about 9/11 was. "It was just two buildings, right?"

Kids need to be exposed to this type of information. Not just in the history book context either. They need to think about this stuff. They need to form their own opinions no matter how old they are. If they're not thinking critically about this information, they will never actually learn it. It will just be information that they sponge up and spit back out on a test as casually as their times tables.


(There's the teacher in me again. I apologize. :sick:)
 

dDave

Well-Known Member
V.I.P.
I have never in my life understood Holocaust denial. I don't think this was "horribly" inappropriate but I believe an 8th grade class is an inappropriate party to ask of this assignment. People also tend to forget, this was not a 'Jewish' tragedy either, millions of people died and a lot of them were not Jews.
I fully agree.

The problem I have with this assignment is that the question asks students to take a side as if they're both legitimate. By asking the question they are in fact suggesting that it's up for debate whether or not it happened. Here's a fact, it did happen and you're right Merc, millions of people (Jews and non-Jews alike) died. To even suggest that the Holocaust may not have happened seems ignorant to me.
 

Taliesin

Registered Member
But isn't that part of what learning critical thinking is? Weighing up the opposing views that are out there, and coming to your own conclusions? I have no problem with different views of the Holocaust being presented, as long as it's under the whole thing of, "Well, some people think this, but history tells us this. What do you make of it?"

We can't make people think what we want them to think, even when it comes to them adopting erroneous views such as Holocaust denial. We can, however, teach people from a young age to fully engage with the world around them, and to learn how to filter all that information out there so that they will hopefully come to the right conclusions rather than the wrong ones.

In other words, if I had kids, I'd very much be hoping for them to come to the conclusion that the Holocaust did happen and that it was a terrible tragedy that should never have happened. I don't want them telling me this because they think it's what I want to hear and were taught to parrot the correct view anyway, but because they - through conversations with me and others, and through their own critical thinking - came to that themselves.

Then I'd know that the world is in safe hands, because the next generation won't be easily fooled OR swayed by whatever opinions or facts or information are swirling around at the time. It's not about getting them to parrot the right things. It's about them believing the right things not because we say so, but because they came to that themselves and are therefore more able to wholeheartedly accept it.
 
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