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Students Asked to Submit an Assignment Arguing that ‘Jews are Evil’

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I suppose I could dwell on how insensitive the teacher’s assignment topic was, but I prefer to acknowledge the courage and moral fortitude of the students who boycotted the task out of disgust:

An Albany High School teacher raised eyebrows and a flurry of complaints when an assignment required students to write from the perspective of the Nazis, New York Magazine reports.

Students were tasked with writing an argument that Jews are evil.

“You must argue that Jews are evil, and use solid rationale from government propaganda to convince me of your loyalty to the Third Reich!” the assignment, posted on the Times Union website, reads.

The Albany newspaper reports that one-third of students boycotted the assignment, prompting Albany Superintendent Marguerite Vanden Wyngaard to apologize to families, adding, “I don’t believe there was malice or intent to cause any insensitivities to our families of Jewish faith.”

The superintendent blamed tougher Common Core standards that require “sophisticated” writing linking English composition to other subjects, like world history. But not all are buying it.

NYmag.com noted that the exercise could have concerned a wide array of topics, so the rhetorical exercise seemed especially tone deaf.

“The weird part, though, is that the assignment calls on the students, in making their cases, to draw upon a packet of Nazi propaganda, ‘what you’ve learned in history class,’ and ‘any experiences you have.’ With … Jews being evil?” the article reads.

The Times Union reports that the superintendent did not release the teacher’s name.

I am an advocate for mixing subjects. It can be a very useful way of negotiating the curriculum and making your teaching flow thematically. This has nothing to do with the mixing of subjects. This has everything to do with a teacher making a blunder. Instead of deflecting the issue, the school should have apologised profusely and left it at that.

 

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One Response to “Students Asked to Submit an Assignment Arguing that ‘Jews are Evil’”

  1. prideinmadness Says:

    While it’s super awkward I understand where the teacher was coming from. Maybe that’s more of a university/college assignment. It is good to exercise how to properly argue something you disagree with but maybe Nazi’s is the wrong topic!!!

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