Teaching about the Shoah

Teaching about the Shoah

In your article about the outstanding Holocaust documentary produced by Adam and Ben Danzger (Sept. 9), I am quoted as saying, “kids who learn too much about the concentration camps are turned off to the Holocaust.” The statement is attributed to me, but it does not reflect the complexity and pedagogic rationale that informed the project.

Our school uses a Shoah curriculum that is developmentally appropriate and based on the pedagogical philosophies of Yad Vashem and the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. To ensure that our students become engaged in studying the events of the Shoah now and in the future, we must take their psychological well–being into account. No curriculum that reduces children to tears will result in real learning. There is a vast amount of information to be studied about the Shoah, and our students should not become numbed by exposure to information they are not yet ready to process. Thus, in the elementary and middle grades, we do not study the death camps. There is much to study before reaching that point.

Adam and Ben Danzger, through their excellent documentary, have guided other young people to ask pointed questions of survivors in our area and have helped to unleash stories of interrupted childhoods, bravery, and survival.

I hope that everyone has the opportunity to view this film at the Kaplen JCC on the Palisades on Sept. 18 at 7 p.m. Please note that another screening will take place at the SSDS of Bergen County on Kristallnacht, presented by the Danzger boys.