Over the weekend, we learned that a school district in California assigned its eighth graders an 18-page essay for an exercise in critical thinking. The exercise? Holocaust denial. The sources the students were sent to? Holocaust denial websites.
The 18-page assignment instructions included three sources that students were told to use, including one that stated gassings in concentration camps were a “hoax” and that no evidence has shown Jews died in gas chambers.
“With all this money at stake for Israel, it is easy to comprehend why this Holocaust hoax is so secretly guarded,” states the source, which is a attributed to a webpage on biblebelievers.org.au. “In whatever way you can, please help shatter this profitable myth. It is time we stop sacrificing America’s welfare for the sake of Israel and spend our hard-earned dollars on Americans.”
Un-freaking-believable. Not a single teacher thought this was worth protesting? Not a single reviewer of the Common Core program thought this was problematic? Can you imagine the conversation about this? “We have to teach critical thinking. Hey, I know! Let’s get the kids to refute the existence of the Holocaust to learn how the other side thinks!”
Un-freaking-believable. Oh, and get this: The school district that assigned this crapola? They defended themselves and the assignment. They didn’t think there was anything wrong with it. After all, they only got one complaint.
The Rialto Unified School District is defending an eighth-grade assignment that asks students to debate in writing whether the Holocaust was “merely a political scheme created to influence public emotion and gain.”
The district says the assignment is merely to teach students to evaluate the quality of evidence made by advocates or opponents of an issue.
“When tragic events occur in history, there is often debate about their actual existence,” the assignment reads. “For example, some people claim the Holocaust is not an actual historical event, but instead is a propaganda tool that was used for political and monetary gain. Based upon your research on this issue, write an argumentative essay, utilizing cited textual evidence, in which you explain whether or not you believe the Holocaust was an actual event in history, or merely a political scheme created to influence public emotion and gain. Remember to address counterclaims (rebuttals) to your stated claim. You are also required to use parenthetical (internal) citations and to provide a Works Cited page.”
The documents at the source also claim that Anne Frank was a hoax. That’s critical thinking?
No, it isn’t. Exercising your critical thinking skills involves taking two sides of an issue where both sides are based on actual facts, and arguing the interpretation–not where one side is history and the other side is bullshit.
“Whatever (the district’s) motivation, it ends up elevating hate and history to the same level,” Rabbi Abraham Cooper, the associate dean of the Los Angeles-based Simon Wiesenthal Center, told FoxNews.com on Monday. “We should train our kids to have critical thinking, but the problem here is the teacher confused teaching critical thinking with common sense, because common sense dictates you don’t commingle propaganda with common truth.”
Un-freaking-believable. On so many different levels, including the fact that not a single teacher or parent thought anything about students being taught to research lies as truth.
The assignment was developed by a small group of eighth grade teachers in December, Jafri said Monday afternoon. It was distributed to middle school sites in February and teachers were asked for comment.
“If there were complaints, we never heard about it at the district office,” Jafri said.
And oh, yeah–the school district stopped digging and decided that the assignment was wrong and should never be repeated.