Childrearing

School District Asks Students If Holocaust Was A Hoax In Monumentally Stupid Assignment

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was-the-holocaust-realThe Rialto Unified School District is planning to revise and 8th grade argumentative studies assignment-an assignment that can only be classified as a monumentally insensitive fuck up.

Imagine for a second that your kid came home from school with the assignment to write an argumentative piece on whether or not the Holocaust is an elaborate piece of Jewish propaganda, because that’s exactly what these 8th graders were asked to do, according to The Sun. The assignment was to use “multiple, credible references” in order to draw a conclusion as to “whether or not you believe this was an actual event in history, or merely a political scheme created to influence public emotion and gain wealth.”

What makes this train wreck of an idea exponentially more idiotic is that the “credible” sources include About.com, History.com, and of course, that bastion of academia, Bible Believers website, which was apparently made when the internet was new and hasn’t been updated since. Here’s a scholarly gem from that site:

“Even The Diary of Anne Frank is a hoax. Portions of the diary were written with a ball point pen. These pens were not in use at the time Anne Frank lived. It is not denied concentration camps existed. Tragically, many died of typhus or starvation, as often happens in such situations. There is, however, no evidence that any gassings occurred for the reasons of genocide.”

This offends and horrifies me on so many levels. First as someone with Jewish family members, secondly because I am acutely aware that there are a number of people who truly doubt the veracity of the Holocaust despite its atrocities, and then as a parent of a school-aged child who will, in a few year’s time, begin to learn about this depraved and inhuman event.

That people deny that the Holocaust happened isn’t even new. Eisenhower predicted that deniers would emerge, which is why he had the camps so thoroughly documented. But that isn’t even at issue here. The issue is that this was all presented as a valid debate topic. Why not have kids explore whether or not gravity is a hoax?

What galls me is that the revisions to this assignment were only made after a local newspaper got wind of the assignment; no parents or students complained. First, if my kid came home with this, I’d be pissed. Second, if she ever parenthetically sourced a crappy website, I’d be extra-pissed. That’s just bad form.

On the plus side, this doesn’t look like it was part of a bigger agenda. Instead, it seems like it was an assignment designed to meet everyone’s favorite new academic standards: The Common Core. According to a blog post on the Anti Defamation League‘s site, after the ADL became involved in this nonsense:

“ADL does not have any evidence that the assignment was given as part of a larger, insidious, agenda…rather, the district seems to have given the assignment with an intent, although misguided, to meet Common Core standards relating to critical learning skills.”

Fortunately, it’s looking like the entire assignment is being scrapped, which is a good thing. Though I can’t wait to see what’s next! A debate piece on why suffrage was a crappy idea? A point-by-point rebuttal of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.‘s speech? I guess we’ll just have to see.

(Image:KTLA)

79 Comments

  1. Ursi

    May 6, 2014 at 2:08 pm

    There’s just no excuse for this.

    How on earth is it that not one single person could have complained? Not even one parent or child?

    • JenH1986

      May 6, 2014 at 2:19 pm

      As I was reading this I was thinking of the terse email I was going to be sending to the school. And I don’t have kids.

  2. Katie

    May 6, 2014 at 2:14 pm

    I can’t even begin to believe this. Prior to the Holocaust, my Jewish great grandfather lived in Poland with his thirteen brothers and sisters and massive extended family. He’s the only one that lived to see the end of the war. The only reason he survived is because he was the only boy old enough to join the Polish resistance and escape to to England.
    If people can say that is a hoax, that countless children and mothers and fathers just disappeared, they’re deranged. It’s a truly horrible side of humanity, but you are worse than the faceless men shoving scared and naked people into gas chambers to die if you let them die in vain. We have to remember the victims and make sure their death wasn’t in vain.

    • Rachel Sea

      May 6, 2014 at 3:49 pm

      On August 9, 1941 the entire Jewish population of my paternal grandfather’s family’s village was exterminated and dumped into a mass grave, which is still there, and I think it was completely in vain. Genocide still happens regularly, with the people whose job it is to halt it doing absolutely fuck all. I think the only lesson learned is that if you’re going to be a genocidal dictator, don’t go killing people in the country next door.

    • Justme

      May 6, 2014 at 10:40 pm

      I believe Eddie Izzard has said something similar.

  3. RayneofCastamere

    May 6, 2014 at 2:25 pm

    What. What. I don’t even.

    Where the hell do the deniers think that all of those twelve million people, Jewish, homosexual, communist, political dissident, physically or mentally disabled, etc, went? To their secret moon colony?

    Why would any school assign this? What on earth went through their puny little minds? What alien brain parasite made them think that this was in any way an acceptable assignment.

    Done. I’m done.

    • JenH1986

      May 6, 2014 at 2:43 pm

      What teacher didn’t use critical thinking (what they are trying to teach) and talk to an administrator and say “this is a terrible idea.”

    • Sarah

      May 6, 2014 at 4:02 pm

      Holocaust deniers are probably also moon landing deniers so it really is a head scratcher.

    • SunnyD847

      May 6, 2014 at 5:54 pm

      I showed Schindler’s List to HS students and one kid refused to watch because he did not believe in the Holocaust. Unfortunately, I was required to “respect his beliefs” and let him go to the library. I wish I could have forced him to watch – and learn.

    • Ursi

      May 6, 2014 at 5:57 pm

      I hope he’s since broken away from any parental influence. What a horrible thing to indoctrinate a child with.

    • RayneofCastamere

      May 6, 2014 at 6:54 pm

      “Respect his beliefs?”

      It’s one thing to respect someone’s religious beliefs as they involve his or her spirituality that is intensely private.

      It’s another thing to “respect” someone’s WILLING IGNORANCE of proven, historical FACT.

      Fine, then. I believe the Founding Fathers were Illuminati space aliens bent on impregnating George III with their reptile babies, may I please be excused from this class on the American Revolution? My “theory” makes more sense than Holocaust denial, at the very least. Prove that they weren’t.

    • SunnyD847

      May 6, 2014 at 7:15 pm

      He belonged to the Nation of Islam (which denies denying the Holocaust) so I guess it came under religious beliefs if anti-semitism is a religious belief.

    • FormerlyKnownAsWendy

      May 6, 2014 at 10:39 pm

      Well, and not all countries teach too much history….especially this aspect of it, (it’s just not mentioned) so some of them just honestly don’t know, too. When I worked at a high school, I noticed some of the foreign exchange students knew geography really well, but zilch about the Holocaust.

  4. CMJ

    May 6, 2014 at 2:32 pm

    My jaw literally just dropped.

  5. Lackadaisical

    May 6, 2014 at 2:33 pm

    What? I am not Jewish and nobody in my family died in the camps but I would be furious if my kid came home with this assignment as it is offensive to a great many people and incredibly disrespectful to all the victims. Also, for any trolls out there who find this thread through a search of controversial words … I know the holocaust was real because there is a fairly famous photo of a British soldier in a bulldozer digging mass graves after Belsen was liberated and by a staggering coincidence he was my grandad, who was haunted with nightmares from seeing the suffering to the day he died. If witnessing the suffering can cause lasting trauma than surviving it or losing someone to it must have had a terrible and lasting effect on the victims.

    • whiteroses

      May 7, 2014 at 4:37 pm

      I’ve seen that picture more times than I can count. And I’m not sure how someone could be forced- albeit for the good of the survivors and the fact that someone had to do it- to do something like that and NOT have nightmares.
      God bless your granddad.

    • Lackadaisical

      May 7, 2014 at 6:03 pm

      From what my grandad told me they weren’t forced to go do it but they did not expect what they saw. They had no clue how utterly, appallingly vile it was for those poor people there with so many dead and in such obviously torturous ways and survivors in such a state. He told me the soldiers who went in for the liberation / clean up were told they could have early leave if they were involved and the depth of suffering wasn’t common knowledge. They knew a bit, my grandad had been involved in the liberation of the Netherlands and married a local woman and so knew that Jewish people were taken away by the Germans and that it was very bad for them, but no one expected such awful, horrific evil. When he got there and witnessed it he knew it had to be done. Being a witness to such atrocities is painful and heartbreaking, yet it is nothing compared to those who survived it and grieved for their fellow victims. There were so many bodies and the survivors so frail that further disease from the bodies was a real danger.

      I don’t agree with capital punishment or revelling in it but I sympathise and understand the fact that after the liberation he got a lot of closure by being present as a soldier at the trials, some sort of guard i believe. He despised the people who ran the camp for what they did and took great satisfaction in the executions. He never hated German people or even soldiers, he was realistic about then being people who were on a different side just because of where they were born, but he utterly hated the people who ran the camps.

    • whiteroses

      May 7, 2014 at 9:48 pm

      I think “forced” is the wrong word, but it’s been a long day and I couldn’t think of the right one.

    • Lackadaisical

      May 8, 2014 at 2:22 am

      I know what you mean. It was a deeply disturbing experience for them that to be honest they probably all wish they could have skipped, but somebody had to do it.

  6. Clarissa

    May 6, 2014 at 2:42 pm

    I’m a Jehovah’s Witness and have met people who were in the prison camps(Hitler wasn’t a fan of Jehovah’s Witnesses either). When you speak to someone who has gone through those camps, it leaves no doubt in your mind that it was real. Hitler wanted to exterminate anyone who wasn’t a part of his “master race”. I believe that is the definition of genocide.

    • the_ether

      May 6, 2014 at 5:40 pm

      Not only that, but JW prisoners often volunteered for the harshest work jobs to spare other prisoners the suffering. I’m not a giant fan of any religion that wakes me up on a Saturday wanting rk talk religion while I’m hungover, but when I found this out I softened my stance on them a little bit

  7. Stephanie

    May 6, 2014 at 2:42 pm

    Oh Lord, here comes the rage blackout…

  8. guest001

    May 6, 2014 at 2:44 pm

    There is irony that some Mommyish writers often cite The Daily Mail as a source, yet this article is scoffing at other just as ludicrous sources. That said, I can see how the intention of using a non-arguable event in history as groundwork to get students to think critically seemed like a good idea initially, but these teachers missed the mark big time. It’s imperative (and a responsibility of parents as well as educators) to teach children to learn how to form their own informed and educated opinions, but it seems as if this assignment and the way it is being presented is failing miserably.

    • noodlestein

      May 6, 2014 at 3:22 pm

      Yeah, this is a BLOG for adults, not a state funded school designed to teach children. Not very equivelent.

    • guest001

      May 6, 2014 at 5:14 pm

      Clearly, you’re missing the point. There was no attempt by me in drawing any kind of correlations between the blog and the assigment. The point I made is that Mommyish is liberal in their use of questionable sources in their articles and I found it amusing that they were attacking the laughable “sources” the assignment was listing as acceptable source. No comparison was being drawn between that and the school’s assignment, only pointing out the irony, hence noted at the beginning of the following sentence with, “That said…”

    • Ms. Anne

      May 6, 2014 at 6:31 pm

      I believe that the difference noodlestein was referring to is that, while something like the Daily Mail can be a source for discussion of current topics on a blog, it is not an appropriate academic source for a paper. There is an additional level of credibility and accountability required for academic work. Things like this could be why my college students think that about.com or history.com are appropriate sources for college essays.

    • guest001

      May 7, 2014 at 2:21 pm

      Thank you, Ms. Anne for trying to clarify the situation coming from noodlestein. And again, I will try to explain what I meant in my initial comment: Crap sources are crap sources and have no place in any platform that wants to be even marginally considered to be ‘not crap.’ Crap sources do not belong in written articles, nor do they belong on blogs that desire to have any modicum of intelligent discussion, and absolutely do not belong in school assigned essays.

    • Rowan

      May 7, 2014 at 5:15 am

      The Daily Mail is a source of misogynist claptrap and “omigod, lesbian asylum seekers are ruining property values!” hand-wringing.

  9. Jen Hassenpflug

    May 6, 2014 at 2:51 pm

    Im not going to be so quick to get pissy at this assignment. It could be a great way to teach students about credible arguments and, how too spot and use credible sources for arguments. If the parents, and a good teacher can work with their children with this assignment it could be a good way to also teach about ignorance and biases in the world and how to spot an invalid argument based on the way its formed. After all Hitler convinced his people to kill millions of people using passionate straw man arguments, we need to teach are children how to spot those and how not to be manipulated into believing these types of things, and how easily that can actually happen. They also need to learn how to seek out the truths themselves, instead of following herd mentality. Because the arguments for the non-existence of the holocaust is so outrageously,and obviously flawed, I think its a good, easy way, for a first time critical look at both how to form an argument with accurate supporting evidence, and how good and bad arguments are formed in general. I have faith that every single one of those students, if they actually, meaningfully consider both sides of the argument, will argue that the holocaust was real.

    • AE Vorro

      May 6, 2014 at 3:08 pm

      I was thinking the same thing, too, only they would need to frame the assignment differently. Something more like: here’s a historical event. Some people claim it didn’t happen. Find X number of credible sources for each. Learning to understand credible sources has grown in importance, seeing as information, good and bad, is more widely, immediately available. They just went about it entirely wrong…

    • Rachel Sea

      May 6, 2014 at 3:17 pm

      Except there is not one credible source on the denyers’ side.

    • TngldBlue

      May 6, 2014 at 3:23 pm

      I see immense value in teaching my child how to figure that out for herself.

    • Rachel Sea

      May 6, 2014 at 3:29 pm

      But if the assignment involves finding a credible source for Holocaust denial, then the assignment leads kids to believe that there is such a thing. All kids (all people) should learn information technology and research skills, but that is not what was happening here. They were handed “credible sources” that just weren’t.

    • TngldBlue

      May 6, 2014 at 3:54 pm

      I was replying based on AE Vorro’s version of the assignment. I was given similar assignments in school and sometimes they resulted in a finding of no credible sources which we were then required to prove by demonstrating why they weren’t credible. I agree the schools assignment missed the mark completely by providing laughable sources and portending they were legitimate. I don’t understand at all why they would be providing sources in the first place, after all isn’t culling sources the main lesson in writing an argumentative paper?!

    • AE Vorro

      May 6, 2014 at 4:40 pm

      Yeah, entire lesson plan is pretty terrible, on a lot of different levels.

    • AE Vorro

      May 6, 2014 at 4:39 pm

      No except. I didn’t suggest the deniers had any credible sources, we all know they don’t, but asking kids to try and find them (and come up short) could demonstrate the difference between the two. But, honestly, a lesson plan around sources could be built around any well-documented historical event (and especially one that isn’t plagued by those denier a-holes).

    • Paul White

      May 6, 2014 at 4:08 pm

      I’d agree if that was how it was framed. But it wasn’t.

    • AE Vorro

      May 6, 2014 at 4:43 pm

      Yeah, thanks, I got that. I read the editorial and related articles.

    • Katherine Handcock

      May 6, 2014 at 7:52 pm

      Yes, this is exactly how it should have been phrased. It would have accomplished the goal of researching the event, researching the opposing point of view, writing a convincing counterargument, etc., without giving any credence to the idea that the Holocaust didn’t happen. How the teacher didn’t realize that ahead of time rather baffles me.

    • AE Vorro

      May 6, 2014 at 8:01 pm

      So many bad decisions there. So many.

    • Ursi

      May 6, 2014 at 3:15 pm

      Yeah but I think you’re neglecting to think of all the people who find even the suggestion of it offensive. Any why wouldn’t they? That is a VERY sore subject among survivors and their families. Antisemitism is alive and well in the world.

      Consider; what are they actually learning here? If the point is to research a ludicrous claim against credible evidence there could certainly be a more appropriate example. What about people who deny the moon landing? That’s an equally insane claim that is occasionally supported by “facts”. Would that not be a better choice than what they’ve done here?

      Why would you even deign to give a smidgen of credibility to holocaust deniers– why even entertain the notion? Imagine a child who has a holocaust survivor in the family, did that person suffer so that decades later their descendant would have to look at bullshit arguments by dishonorable people?

    • Rachel Sea

      May 6, 2014 at 3:15 pm

      I do not care what the assignment is, if anyone told my kid that they were required to read racist propaganda I would throw a fit.

    • Sarah

      May 6, 2014 at 4:01 pm

      lol you’re not going to be so quick to get pissy, huh? Betting you’re also not Jewish!

    • Toastlette

      May 6, 2014 at 4:46 pm

      Maybe in a higher-level class, with older students. For the younger set, a different subject would be best, in my opinion. Maybe one not dealing with genocide, or being exposed to the types of people and sites that the deniers run.
      The skills you’re speaking of are good skills, no doubt. The subject matter, inappropriate for a school to require that kids read up on it.

    • Jen Hassenpflug

      May 6, 2014 at 5:22 pm

      I’m not sure, I think kids are more capable of understanding things like this than we give them credit for.I remember I starting learning about the Holocaust in the 8th grade; I wrote a paper on Schindler’s List in 9th grade. I developed an early and strong interest in the Holocaust, and I still have it today, I don’t think it damaged me. There’s a lot to be learned from it, one of them being that “‘one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws”. Martin Luther King Jr. Yes, another subject could have been chosen, however, I think with the nature of writing about something like the Holocaust, it forces students to take it the assignment seriously.

    • Toastlette

      May 7, 2014 at 1:32 pm

      You’re right about that, kids can handle a lot. I should have been more specific about my concern. 🙂 It’s that it is a needlessly controversial take on the issue, and holocaust denier sites/books are not something I think a kid should read. Kids should learn about WWII and it’s horrors, certainly, from good historical sources. The racist loony denier sites and sources shouldn’t come into it until they are much older.

    • Roberta

      May 6, 2014 at 10:32 pm

      If you want to teach kids how to find credible sources and be skeptical and questioning, that is great. But to do it with the Holocaust, especially when they may not have a grasp of what it fully is, is a mockery. If a teacher wants to do an assignment like this, then they really need to start with something like the Moon landing or curses, something where 6 million people weren’t slaughtered.

  10. Bic

    May 6, 2014 at 2:58 pm

    There’s a decent idea somewhere in this mess, but this is not the way to do it. Teaching children the importance of documenting an event like this and why it’s imperative people learn about it via different mediums as the people who actually remember it are slowly dying is nessesary, but there has got to be a better way than this.

  11. Rachel Sea

    May 6, 2014 at 3:02 pm

    How about a critical thinking paper on whether the administration are a bunch of racist shitmittens who wouldn’t know a credible source if they were beaten to death with it by a horde of angry descendants of Holocaust survivors?

    • whiteroses

      May 7, 2014 at 7:56 am

      A few years ago I was actually in the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum when a teenage kid who was with his girlfriend said, “I don’t know why all these survivors write books. It’s not like anyone cares about what they think or how they feel.” And she laughed.

      Everyone was kind of stunned. We all stared at them until one of the elderly African women behind the counter said, “They write these stories so people like you can one day understand, with a little bit of maturity, that personal stories are incredibly important. The two of you will never grow up in a world like these people did, and you should thank whatever power you believe in for that. But it’s so easy to hate and dislike others for no other reason than their religion- or the color of their skin. I was born in 1954 in the south. I know what hate can do. I’ve seen it. And maybe you should think about how you can improve our planet instead of tearing down victims of hate.”

      I wanted to call them assholes- but I think her way was a lot better. 🙂

    • Guest

      May 7, 2014 at 10:19 am

      Totally thought your story was going to be one of those “I was too shocked to say anything” deals. Man alive that woman had the perfect response. Bless her for saying it.

    • whiteroses

      May 7, 2014 at 10:31 am

      She came up with something a lot better than I could have, which would have involved a hell of a lot of incoherent rage and curse words.

    • Rachel Sea

      May 7, 2014 at 1:02 pm

      I…don’t know what I would have done. My sister and I went there when we were 14, she made it 2/3 of the way through, and then put her head down and ran. I kept looking, but it’s all a blurr now. I remember best an open two story space covered in photos, and everywhere I looked I saw faces that could have been a relative. A few faces looked just like mine.

      I understand the indifference of those who cannot put themselves so easily in the camps and factories or just bleeding to death on the street while the rest of my family is force marched away. I get that it’s not part of their family narrative. They didn’t put a portion of their pocket money in a blue tin bank to support the tiny little country of Israel, because it was the refuge of Europe’s surviving Jews. For some people it was a long time ago, and they can’t imagine 72 million people, let alone imagine them all dying in a war.

      I can’t imagine the selfish callousness it would take to think that the world cares about your selfie, or a picture of your lunch, while wanting a witness of one of the worst tragedies in human history to STFU.

    • whiteroses

      May 7, 2014 at 4:30 pm

      I think he was trying to impress the girl he was with, which is kind of stunning to me. They stood there looking uncomfortable until I regained my senses, looked at them and said, “What time is your ticket?” She told me they were about to go into the building. I looked at them both and said, “I hope you absorb every single thing you see in there and take it to heart. And if you get past everything you’re about to see and make it to the Hall of Remembrance, light a candle for my great-grandmother’s family and extra family I’ll never have because of people like the two of you who wanted all of this to go away and wanted survivors to shut up. I can’t tell you where to light it because I don’t know where they were deported, or even when exactly they died. But I know if more people spoke up and more people said no, my family would have lived.”

      I had nothing to do that day, so I sat in the atrium and waited for them to come out. About an hour and a half later, she came out sobbing and he was white as a sheet. NOBODY can walk through that museum and doubt that the Shoah happened. Nobody.

      I’m hoping that they learned their lesson.

  12. Sarah

    May 6, 2014 at 3:59 pm

    What are these comments about how this is a nice idea in theory and they see where the administration was going and it’s a good lesson to teach kids..? Um, I also see where the administration was going and it’s completely fucked up. Holocaust deniers are REAL, they are repulsive and this is not some hot button topic for debate class. Anyone with two brain cells to rub together should be able to see how undeniably horrible and offensive this is.

    • TngldBlue

      May 6, 2014 at 4:12 pm

      My father in law and his sister (aunt in law?) were in a concentration camp so I know how repulsive deniers are. And it is precisely because deniers exist that I think it is imperative that my child learn not only to question everything but to differentiate between idiocy and truth. Those who can’t, are easily lead.

    • Sarah

      May 6, 2014 at 4:21 pm

      The assignment was to use “multiple, credible references” in order to draw a conclusion as to “whether or not you believe this was an actual event in history, or merely a political scheme created to influence public emotion and gain wealth.”

      …this is not a learning experience, this is racism.

    • TngldBlue

      May 6, 2014 at 4:28 pm

      Right except you questioned the people saying they understood the theory behind the assignment, none of whom supported the assignment as it was given.

    • Sarah

      May 6, 2014 at 4:33 pm

      I guess I should have been more clear: I don’t understand anyone who is trying to find anything to defend about this situation. It seems contrarian to look for a silver lining here.

    • Katherine Handcock

      May 6, 2014 at 7:51 pm

      The way this assignment should have been phrased – which would have addressed the sensitivity of this target – is this: “Write an argumentative piece to counter the arguments of Holocaust deniers.” It would still involve researching the opposing point of view, but it would have made the reality of the situation completely clear: that the Holocaust did happen, that deniers exist, and that their arguments MUST be countered.

    • Sarah

      May 6, 2014 at 7:56 pm

      Yeah, I just don’t think this is an appropriate thing to debate…ever. Even just saying “an opposing point of view” lends them a degree of credibility. I agree with whoever else said they would be so pissed if their kid had an assignment requiring them to read racist neo-Nazi propaganda. There are so many other things this assignment could be about.

    • Katherine Handcock

      May 6, 2014 at 8:06 pm

      I wouldn’t consider it a debate – I’d consider it a counter, like you would counter someone who said, “The sky is pink with yellow polka dots” or “gravity makes you fall up.” To me, “opposing point of view” doesn’t imply credibility of that point of view. And I do think it’s important – especially if the class is just finishing a unit on the Holocaust – for young teens to know that there are people out there who will believe, well, anything, no matter how ridiculous, and to understand how to counter even ridiculous arguments when they appear.

      That said, I also think it’s fair to feel that it’s not a topic that should ever be addressed in that way; if an assignment phrased in the way I described (NOT the original form) came home with my child, I probably wouldn’t be upset personally, but if I heard that any family was uncomfortable with it, I would 100% support replacing the assignment with something equivalent on a different issue.

      My husband tells me that his English class once had to write essays supporting arming deer so they could hunt humans back. A totally unreal scenario like that would have been a better choice if the goal was simply to teach debate skills.

    • Justme

      May 6, 2014 at 10:46 pm

      Recognizing two opposing viewpoints is a skill students need to understand….debating the actual validity of major world events is not. There is a rig way to teach this skill and there is a wrong way. The school chose the wrong way to teach an important skill.

  13. Paul White

    May 6, 2014 at 4:03 pm

    What the actual fuck?

    I mean, jesus fucking christ on a pogo stick.

    If any of the WWII vets in my family were still alive, I’d be happy to arrange a conversation….what the hell?

    • Valerie

      May 6, 2014 at 8:37 pm

      Now I want to see Christ on a pogo stick.

    • FormerlyKnownAsWendy

      May 6, 2014 at 10:42 pm

      Damn it, I’m adding Christ on a pogo stick to my list now. Christ on a crutch, cracker, and I got “Christ on a bike” last week from somewhere on here. Excellent!

    • Rowan

      May 7, 2014 at 5:13 am

      I think “Christ on a bike” is mine… and it’s what I said when I read this.

    • FormerlyKnownAsWendy

      May 7, 2014 at 6:29 pm

      It WAS you! Awesome!

  14. K.

    May 6, 2014 at 4:10 pm

    So…not the same thing, but I have given students the assignment of writing a research paper on the opposite side of an issue they feel passionately about–and I got one that was quite well-written (and researched) about Holocaust deniers. It did not debate the fact that the Holocaust happened but it did try to understand more about why people deny it (which is more the point of that assignment).

    But this just sounds stupid.

  15. CrazyFor Kate

    May 6, 2014 at 5:24 pm

    I was at the Auschwitz site last weekend. Many relatives of the victims and survivors happened to be there at the same time. The pain and sorrow there is almost palpable. You can feel the ghosts. It happened – it really, really did, and to suggest otherwise is so disgusting I can hardly articulate it. This teacher fucked-up big time by even thinking of making kids debate this.

  16. Butt Trophy Recipient

    May 6, 2014 at 6:51 pm

    In HS, when we studied the Slavery Era, I debated in favor of the institution of slavery, not because I believed it, but for the academic pursuit of debate. It was actually one of my best achievements and my teacher really commended me on it, putting together rational arguments (however ultimately flawed they were).

    But the teacher and I made it very clear, that this was solely an academic exercise and was diametrically opposed to our actual beliefs.

    Perhaps if the idiots at this school properly qualified the purpose and objective of this exercise, instead of looking like anti-semites in hiding, this could have been actually a good learning experience.

    • RayneofCastamere

      May 6, 2014 at 6:58 pm

      One of my classes did a similar thought experiment with Columbus with one side in defense of his actions and one against, along with a jury. Since we had spent a large portion of the class learning the atrocities Columbus committed, the against side thought they had it in the bag and slacked off while the for side worked their asses off and wound up winning.

      In theory, this sort of assignment is very useful and is great at teaching people to look at different sides if done right.

      This school, on the other hand, handled this in the worst way possible. I mean, did none of them see the rightful backlash coming?

    • Valerie

      May 6, 2014 at 8:36 pm

      Smartie Socks

    • Justme

      May 6, 2014 at 10:44 pm

      See elsewhere in this thread – I did so etching similar with my kids, but the actual existence of slavery was never up for debate, we just looked at why each side (North or South) supported or opposed slavery

  17. whiteroses

    May 6, 2014 at 7:34 pm

    Speaking as someone whose great-grandmother escaped Germany barely before things got incredibly, horrendously bad for all Jews (though sadly, her twin sister, brothers, parents and 99.9% of her family members were not as lucky): whoever made up this assignment can go fuck themselves. Seriously.

    • Justme

      May 6, 2014 at 10:43 pm

      You need to read After Long Silence – it’s about two girls who find out late in life that both their parents are Jewish concentration camp survivors. It’s a tough read, but I think it shines good light on the emotional aftermath of the Holocaust.

    • G.S.

      May 6, 2014 at 11:56 pm

      My great grandmother lived through Occupied Poland. She saw babies be slaughtered in front of her. Her entire family was taken to a concentration camp while she was out of the house. I know that at least one of her family members lived through the camp, but her brother Jan was killed at some point in the occupation. From what I’ve been told (she died when I was two), she was always quiet about it, since “there are things that you shouldn’t tell children.”

      Imagine my fucking delight when my grandmother found those “Not saying the Holocaust DIDN’T happen, but they totally didn’t push any living people in the ovens, you guys. The Jews are a bunch of over-embellishing whiners (who also brought it on themselves since they were greedy bastards who owned all the money)!” youtube videos. I didn’t say it out loud, because I’m worthless in a conflict, but I was thinking, “What about Babcia?! Your own mother! Do you think she was LYING?! Do you think all those people who came out of that nightmare with those numbers tattooed on their wrists all just decided to make shit up to throw a pity party?!” I did tell her that “Yes, it did happen, since Jews were considered less than rats over there,” though. I just didn’t have the balls to say the first thing. Between that and the “Sandy Hook never happened! It was all just a military training exercise! The kids are fine!” bullshit, I’ve never been so ready to completely destroy a laptop in my life.

  18. Justme

    May 6, 2014 at 10:39 pm

    I see where the school was trying to go with this…there is a huge amount of critical thinking to be learned when you analyze sources, cross-check facts, and argue from opposing views.

    I actually did a great activity in a similar nature when discussing the Civil War with my 7th grade students last year. As modern kids, it’s difficult for them to understand why the South was SO pro-slavery so we looked at contributing social, economic, and political factors from both the South and Norths point of view. But we stuck to examining both sides of an issue that definitely did happen and the entire lesson was prefaced with the idea that sometimes history is ugly because people did ugly things, but we must learn from it in order to avoid similar actions.

    But this school district screwed up in giving kids the idea that you could argue that a major event like the Holocaust didn’t happen. There are different angles to examine within the Holocaust – Jews living in Europe, Nazi soldiers, “Aryan” townspeople, etc. Have them read All Quiet on the Western Front and compare the German soldiers perspective on the war with an Allied soldiers view. There are literally HUNDREDS of resources out thereto choose from that will teach a similar educational lesson while still holding true to the facts of the Holocaust.

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