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Delusional Albany English Teacher Assigns Pro-Nazi Essay

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notebookI’m all for public education that encourages children to think outside the box. But I’d say it’s wise to draw the line at blatant anti-Semitism. This Albany English teacher must have woken up on the wrong side of last century the day she presented this assignment to her students.

From BBC news:

The English teacher, who has not been named, asked students to pick a method of argument and review a packet of Nazi propaganda in order to make a persuasive argument that “Jews are evil and the source of our problems”.

“Please remember – your life [here in Nazi Germany in the 1930s] may depend on it. You do not have a choice in your position… use solid rationale from government propaganda to convince me of your loyalty to the Third Reich.”

The superintendent is saying this is just a big, huge misunderstanding and the teacher simply should have worded her assignment differently. But here’s my take: Shouldn’t an English teacher be well aware of the power of words, and shouldn’t she know how to use them properly? I mean, really, “Jews are evil” and “convince me of your loyalty to the Third Reich” — that last bit, to me, is nails-on-a-chalkboard uncomfortable. And honestly, is there really a better way to word it at all?

I have been staring at a blank screen for five minutes trying to think of a more tactful way to word this assignment and I have decided there isn’t one. I get that it would take a ton of critical thinking for high school students to write a paper sympathizing with real life villains. But there are other effective, more benign, ways to learn this skill. She could have asked the students to pick a villain from their favorite movie and sympathize with them. Or if she wanted to keep it historical, why not ask students to pretend they’re Roman emperors trying to persuade the Senate to increase troops for further expansion of the empire or something? I don’t know. I suck at history so maybe that’s a bad example.

But I know that if my daughter brought home an assignment like that, I would be appalled. Here’s the one (somewhat?) encouraging part of the story: a third of the students outright refused to complete the assignment. So at least there’s that.

(photo: caimacanul/shutterstock.com)