The Rialto school district planned to revise an eighth-grade assignment that raised red flags by asking students to consider arguments about whether the Holocaust — the systematic killing by the Nazis of some 6 million Jews and millions of others — was not an “actual event” but instead a “propaganda tool that was used for political and monetary gain.”
In a statement released Monday, a spokeswoman for the Rialto Unified School District said an academic team was meeting to revise the assignment.
Interim Superintendent Mohammad Z. Islam was set to talk with administrators to “assure that any references to the holocaust ‘not occurring’ will be stricken on any current or future Argumentative Research assignments,” a statement from district spokeswoman Syeda Jafri read.
“The holocaust should be taught in classrooms with sensitivity and profound consideration to the victims who endured the atrocities committed,” Jafri said.
The English/Language Arts assignment, first reported Sunday by the San Bernardino Sun and provided to KTLA by the newspaper, asked students to write an argumentative essay about the Holocaust describing “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.”
Ed Morrissey has more details. Apparently, the “source materials” included a reference to a crackpot Holocaust denial site. The counter-sources were wikipedia and about.com.
I’ll be as fair as possible to the school and assume that they wanted to teach critical thinking and writing skills by having students address some piece of conspiratorial garbage and find the flaws. But … really even that fails as an excuse. If you want to teach students critical thinking, why on Earth would start with the giant pile of flaming shit that is Holocaust denial? Responding to that is either shooting fish in a barrel or wallowing in some of the foulest pits of conspiracy theory nonsense.
If you want to teach critical thinking skills, take on something that is not settled, like an ongoing scientific or economic debate. Have them read articles for and against the stimulus, for example. Or for and against socialized medicine. Or about climate change. Or about something besides garbage theories that pretend ten million people weren’t murdered by the Nazis.