April 19, 2012 in Features, Voices

Holocaust teaches timeless tolerance lessons

Sydney Hellman
 

Dear Mr. Stenersen,

The Holocaust is a very important event in history and should be included in our school’s curriculum. It is an important subject to know because millions of people were killed in this event and it is vital to keep the memory alive. Adding it to our curriculum at Northwood Middle School will educate the students of our school and our community and raise awareness to prevent future genocides, all through movies, books, and journals written by people who experienced the Holocaust themselves. In conclusion, the Holocaust should be taught at our school for many reasons, and adding it to our school’s curriculum will not only benefit our community, but can benefit the whole world.

Instructing students about the Holocaust is very important. Because this event happened over 60 years ago, there are very few survivors left. When these survivors are all gone, there is potential risk of certain people trying to hide the truth and label it as fiction. Many people already think this, and we need to outnumber them to keep the memory alive for those lost in the war. Therefore, we should get the information out to our students before it is too late. We should get the information out to our community so they will be educated while it is still relevant. As students learn about this dark period of history, they can also be taught how to prevent it from being repeated.

This program will benefit students and our community because it will educate people of the effects of racial prejudice and hopefully prevent genocides from happening in the future. When I watched the documentary “If You Cried You Died,” I became aware of the racial prejudice we go through every day. When we judge someone by the way they style their hair, or what clothes they are wearing, we discriminate and are just as immoral as the Nazis during the Holocaust. Middle school kids can be quite judgmental, and the attitudes and beliefs formed during these teen years can stick with these students their whole lives. It is important to prepare our youth to be accepting toward others and guard against attitudes of prejudice, bullying, and harassment.

Because the idea of genocide seems so far-removed from our experience of living in the Inland Northwest, the subject matter is intriguing to young students. Important parts of the curriculum will include books, movies, journals and personal testimonies. Hearing directly from the survivors through their writings and speeches adds authenticity and reality to the educational experience. Personal testimonies will capture students’ attention while giving eye witness accounts. Historical fiction titles such as “The Boy in the Striped Pajamas” add perspective of an innocent Nazi child’s point of view. Another example is the movie “Schindler’s List,” which shows the treatment of Jews during the Holocaust from several different points of view – Nazi soldiers, businessman Oskar Schindler, and the numerous Jewish people he plotted to save. Studying works of nonfiction such as “The Diary of Anne Frank” will provide even more insight to one family’s very personal experience of hiding from the Nazis. I think this is an important subject to learn because it is an intriguing topic that we never want to exist again.

In summary, I believe that Holocaust education should be added to the curriculum of Northwood Middle School because in addition to being an important component of world history, it also teaches students about tolerance and acceptance. All these warn against developing attitudes of prejudice and discrimination that could lead to genocide in the future. I hope you will consider my position and choose to adopt the Holocaust as a required subject for our school.

Sincerely,

Sydney Hellman

Sydney Hellman, an eighth-grader at Northwood Middle School, won second place, in the middle-school division, in the Eva Lassman Memorial Creative Writing Contest

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