Why Teach about the Holocaust?


  The Holocaust provides one of the most effective subjects for an examination of basic moral issues. A structured inquiry into this history yields critical lessons for an investigation of human behavior. Study of the event also addresses one of the central mandates of education, which is to examine what it means to be a responsible citizen. Through a study of these topics, students come to realize that:
  • Democratic institutions and values are not automatically sustained, but need to be appreciated, nurtured, and protected;

  • Silence and indifference to the suffering of others, or to the infringement of civil rights in any society can—however unintentionally—perpetuate the problems; and

  • The Holocaust was not an accident in history—it occurred because individuals, organizations, and governments made choices that not only legalized discrimination but also allowed prejudice, hatred, and ultimately mass murder to occur.
  • Copyright © United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Washington, D.C.

From the teacher's desk

This page is designed to provide some insites into how I aproach teaching.  Your comments and feedback are always welcome.

Teacher expectations (writing)

Writing is a process.  Sometime in the first week of school, I give the "Here are my writing expectations" speech to my students.   The speech is taken from Bob Sizoo's book, "Teaching Powerful Writing."  It begins something like this:  "As a teacher I have read a lot of student writing and through these experiences I have a good idea of what strong writing looks like and what weak student writing looks like.  I also know how to make weak writing stronger.  I don't need to learn this.  You do!  I cannot follow you around in High School to tell you how to improve your writing.  Beginning now, you need to make a strong commitment to learning this for your self."   Writing is a process.  My job is to teach and guide students through the process of  composition, editing and revision. 

Why Twenty Minutes of reading daily?  Let's figure it out-mathematically! source unknown

Student A reads 20 minutes five nights of every week;
Student B reads only 4 minutes a night...or not at all!
Step 1: Multiply minutes a night x 5 times each week.
Student A
reads 20 min. x 5 times a week = 100 mins./week. 
Student B
reads 4 minutes x 5 times a week = 20 minutes
Step 2: Multiply minutes a week x 4 weeks each month. 
Student A
reads 400 minutes a month. 
Student B
reads 80 minutes a month.
Step 3: Multiply minutes a month x 9 months/school year. 

Student A reads 3600 min.
in a school year. 
The reading the equivalent of ten whole school days a year.
Student B reads 720 min. in a school year.  Student B gets the equivalent of only two school days of reading practice.One would expect the gap of information retained will have widened considerably and so, undoubtedly, will school performance. How do you think Student B will feel about him/herself as a student?

Some questions to ponder:
Which student would you expect to read better?
Which student would you expect to know more?
Which student would you expect to write better?
Which student would you expect to have a better vocabulary?
Which student would you expect to be more successful  in school....and in life?

An excerpt from a book I read this summer that motivates me

When I returned to the classroom in 1994, I began at the beginning. As before, I knew I wanted to try to create an environment conducive to writing: a writing workshop, with plenty of time to write and plenty of opportunities for choice, response, and publication. But this time I had glimmers of my new potential as a teacher of writing. . . . Just as there are times when kids need a mirror, someone to reflect back their writing to them, there are times when they need an adult who will tell them what to do next or how to do it. Bottom line, what they need is a Teacher. Today I’m striving for the fluid, subtle, exhilarating balance that allows me to function in my classroom as a listener and a teller, an observer and an actor, a collaborator and a critic and a cheerleader.

—Atwell, Nancie. “Cultivating Our Garden.” Voices from the

Middle 3.4 (Nov. 1996): 20–21.