Should this teacher be fired for asking her students to write an essay from the viewpoint of a Nazi?

spiced spiced
A teacher in Albany, NY is in trouble for giving her students an unusual assignment: she asked them to write an essay to convince an imaginary Nazi official of their loyalty. Read all about it. About a third of the students refused to do the assignment, and, apparently, some of them complained. The school board is trying to decide how to handle this.

If you were on that school board, how would YOU vote to handle it? Would you vote to reprimand the teacher? Fire her? Or something else?
Answers (private voting - your screen name will NOT appear in the results):
I'd vote to fire her; that was completely unacceptable and unforgiveable.
1  (2%)
I'd vote to reprimand her; it was inappropriate, but she was trying to teach an important lesson.
8  (18%)
I'd vote to take no action; she was trying to teach students an important lesson and they were just overly sensitive about it.
30  (68%)
I'd vote for something else, which I'll explain in a comment.
4  (9%)
Other??
1  (2%)
Total votes: 44
Poll is closed
04/14/2013
  • Save 40% on Vibrators
  • Save 60% on 3 Toy Set
  • Get 3 holiday gifts for just $15
  • Get ready for  holidays. Get 3 toys for $30. Mix and Match!
  • Get 3 amazing toys for $60 only
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
All promotions
Gunsmoke Gunsmoke
I'd fire her in a heart beat. Teacher's are a coddled spoiled - mostly elitist group. The whole concept of tenure is counter productive and a complete rip off.

My wife - a 3rd grade teacher agrees. She sees teacher's abuse the system once they have reached tenure.

I ask you - who among you with a normal job has tenure? You don't - you are employed 'at will' and can be fired at any time. Why are teachers protected?
04/15/2013
Ryuson Ryuson
Quote:
Originally posted by Gunsmoke
I'd fire her in a heart beat. Teacher's are a coddled spoiled - mostly elitist group. The whole concept of tenure is counter productive and a complete rip off.

My wife - a 3rd grade teacher agrees. She sees teacher's abuse the ... More
At the same time, my Uncle teaches middle school and barely makes enough money to survive. I can see both sides of the coin, and understand that a lot of it depends on where you work, but here most of our teachers are severely overworked and underpayed.

That being said, she worded her assignment very poorly. I think that it is a VERY important thing to learn to debate two sides of an argument (some of the most interesting school debates I've seen are where someone has to defend something they find immoral or incorrect) but that you don't have to be so insensitive. She stated to write an antisemetic essay, which is racist and historically incorrect. While 1/3 of the people killed by Nazi soldiers were Jewish, they essentially wanted to eliminate anyone who wasn't atheist/Aryan. While it's certainly not WRONG to ask a class to think about something from the Nazi position of superiority, asking them to focus their hate on one group of people is bad.

I also think that it matters what grade level is being taught. At an upperclassman highschool or college level, where the students have a good grasp of morals, tolerance, and their sense of self, I think that this could be an interesting topic to discuss. A younger student I would hesitate to give this assignment to, simply because it's inviting people into a train of thought that could be unhealthy if they don't understand that it's just a way of broadening their view point.

Don't they have to get their curriculum approved by the board before they ask students to write a paper? :/
04/15/2013
Beautiful-Disaster Beautiful-Disaster
I don't think she should be fired.
04/15/2013
hyacinthgirl hyacinthgirl
WWII is one of my favorite subjects, and it's really easy to just write all Nazis off as monsters. But... plenty of them were just average people of the day. Average German citizens, trying to get along, living life. You don't make waves when Hitler is in charge, and except for the Brownshirts, the Gestapo, and the SS, the average German was not evil. This is a really important thought experiment, especially given that earlier this week, it came out that another teacher was having third graders write "I am willing to give up some of my Constitutional rights for the good of the nation". It's all part of the "How does this happen?" How does average in every way Rolf from Dusseldorf end up machine-gunning Jews in front of a ditch that he forced them to dig? How can a country get caught up in that mania that tells them they have the right to exterminate huge groups of other human beings?

Some of it depends on the age level, but I think upperclassmen should be able to handle this assignment. The assignment outright said: "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."
04/15/2013
Martiniman Martiniman
Fired or reprimanded? No. It is factual history and she's trying to teach from all sides. A simple solution is to have all possible "touchy" assignments approved by the principle first.
04/15/2013
twelve13 twelve13
I think it is a very interesting assignment. I don't think the teacher should be fired (assuming the students had the option not to do it if they felt very uncomfortable).
04/15/2013
Genderfree Genderfree
I think that this is a great assignment. A great way to understand why people are opressive is to look through the eyes of the oppressor. I feel that in social justice a lot of people look at their opressors and think "I don't understand why they think that way about that group of people" and thus do not know how to create change. Without understanding what the Nazis were going through during WWII and the regime of Hitler, you're likely to misunderstand a lot of the germans who followed him and view them as "evil" or "manipulated" when a lot of them believed that they were correct in doing what they were.

If anyone feels like debating, hit me up on my profile page/messages.
04/15/2013
kendra30752 kendra30752
Quote:
Originally posted by spiced
A teacher in Albany, NY is in trouble for giving her students an unusual assignment: she asked them to write an essay to convince an imaginary Nazi official of their loyalty. Read all about it. About a third of the students refused to do the ... More
Hard to really form an opinion without being able to know a whole heck of a lot more about it than the articles will tell. It'd be tough to say really what the teacher's intentions really were or if the assignment was on the decent side or totally out of the way unless I was there to hear how it was assigned, I guess.

However, I really can't think of any good reason a teacher would have to assign something that from what I know from reading in that article, seems obsurd. I mean, I really cannot see any good lesson coming from that so I can completely understand the kids complaining about it. What a very strange, unecessary assignment. Perhaps she should've just discussed the different sides of the nazis/Jews with the class & let them chime in with their own ideas.

I definitely don't think she should be fired or anything. No way. That's over the top, but I do think she should re-think her lesson plans and remember that she's working with children and the entire nazi/Jew thing will always be a hot, sensitive issues (understandably so.)
04/15/2013
Airen Wolf Airen Wolf
Quote:
Originally posted by spiced
A teacher in Albany, NY is in trouble for giving her students an unusual assignment: she asked them to write an essay to convince an imaginary Nazi official of their loyalty. Read all about it. About a third of the students refused to do the ... More
I would commend the teacher after I ruled out any nazi sympathy. To my mind this is a great exercise and it teaches the importance of not doing anything with blind loyalty and how easy it is to be a part of horrible things while believing that you are doing the right thing.

I have asked my daughters to write many an essay on the side of the worst criminals just to teach this sort of thing. It's a viable exercise. Now should they find that she is a Nazi sympathiser and a white supremacist or something she should be reprimanded and probably fired...but if she is teaching the importance of entering anything with open eyes and a questioning mind she should be commended and the students reprimanded...or perhaps asked to write about how they felt.
04/15/2013
KinkyKatieJames KinkyKatieJames
I don't really see anything wrong with this. The assignment isn't condoning Nazism or anything like that, so I wouldn't have taken any action against this teacher.
04/15/2013
GONE! GONE!
Quote:
Originally posted by Genderfree
I think that this is a great assignment. A great way to understand why people are opressive is to look through the eyes of the oppressor. I feel that in social justice a lot of people look at their opressors and think "I don't understand why ... More
I agree with this though I think this specific assignment was poorly thought up and executed.
04/15/2013
Jenny Swallows Jenny Swallows
Quote:
Originally posted by GONE!
I agree with this though I think this specific assignment was poorly thought up and executed.
Yes, I think the teacher could have maybe presented it better but you can say that about a lot of school assignments!

The spirit of the assignment was sound - it is not enough for society to simply tell us "it was evil and that's all you need to know," as if ignorance will sweep something under the table. And the result is, even more ignorance. A European (Greek, I think) sportsman recently was in trouble for offering a Nazi salute at a game. When asked why he did it, he genuinely seemed confused. It was a gesture he had seen that seemed to annoy people, that was all. He had no understanding of what it meant or even why it was "annoying."

Far from being punished, the teacher should be congratulated, and this assignment should be placed on the national curriculum. Naziism was a horror that we should never forget. But how can we remember it if we're not shown what it was?
04/15/2013
Incendiaire Incendiaire
I don't see what the problem is; it sounds like an interesting writing assignment. Children should just do the work they're set instead of looking for an excuse to make trouble.
04/15/2013
P'Gell P'Gell
A lot of good teachers ask students to think outside the box. My children have been asked to write essays from viewpoints such as this, and they have done so. Neither my husband nor I had any issue with it. (One of my daughters had to write an essay from the viewpoint of a white supremacist Klan member during the Civil Rights movement. It taught her how uninformed and brainwashed people this far to the Right are, and she learned a lot that couldn't be taught just by "telling" her these things. An other assignment was to write an essay from the POV of a Tea Party member, and my other daughter learned the same as the one above.)

The teacher should not be fired, of course not. She was attempting to help the students see why people obey blindly, believe propaganda and why they go along with the party line and this will probably help a lot of students realize just how asinine this type of thinking is and it may even help them avoid it themselves. These types of assignments are VERY common in today's teaching, and I applaud them for helping children to THINK!

This isn't about tenure, it's about a commonly done teaching exercise. I'm thinking a lot of people either didn't have a well rounded education themselves or, if older, didn't pay much attention to what their children have been assigned, if this comes as a shock to anyone. It is VERY common!

Despite my disgust at white supremacy movement, should someone who subscribes to this be fired just just for this reason? We do live in a FREE country and even though I am a fairly far Left Liberal, I CAN see beyond the tip of my own nose and realize that someone's belief system isn't a reason for firing.

Now, if she treated African American, Jewish, and other minorities unfairly, that would be a reason for firing. But, first of all, I doubt she is a supremacist, (as this is a common assignment in more progressive schools) and secondly, her actions toward the students count, what she believes in her own home should not.
04/15/2013
captainsgirl captainsgirl
Quote:
Originally posted by spiced
A teacher in Albany, NY is in trouble for giving her students an unusual assignment: she asked them to write an essay to convince an imaginary Nazi official of their loyalty. Read all about it. About a third of the students refused to do the ... More
I would vote for a suspension and a hearing. Regardless if she was trying to teach a lesson or not I find it completely unacceptable.
04/15/2013
MrWill MrWill
Absolutely not, one of the best ways to understand a group or person is to argue from their side of things.
04/15/2013
chicmichiw chicmichiw
The most important part and the real reason for the assignment is in the last part of that news story -- a lot of people who committed horrendous acts under the government or military at that time weren't believers in the ideology but simply had no choice. That assignment might even be a way to understand that individuals DON'T commit atrocities out of active beliefs, it's often group situations that spin out of control. It was a dicey, ballsy assignment, but something tells me someone took this way way out of context.
04/15/2013
Allison.Wilder Allison.Wilder
I don't think the teacher should be fired. If this had happened in a college setting, nobody would be talking about it.
04/15/2013
spiced spiced
An important part of the story that I didn't mention in my original post, and which no one has addressed so far in a comment (but which IS detailed in the first sentence of the article I linked), is that the students were asked to show their loyalty in the essay specifically by blaming Jews for Germany's problems.

To me, it's one thing to ask students to put themselves in the shoes of an ordinary person caught up in an evil situation they can't control — that's an important lesson — but asking high school kids to write an anti-Semitic essay is over the line.
04/15/2013
MissAdara MissAdara
It is a very sensitive subject, it was a horrible time, BUT I do think it was an interesting idea, on the essay part. For kids, probably not, but I can see it for highschool/college students. But I mean with all those complaints, a short suspension I guess. I don't know, I'm kind of in between.
04/15/2013
SaucyxGirl SaucyxGirl
I personally think that this is a wonderful assignment. While people may see it as anti Semitic I would not. While the Nazis committed many crimes against other groups, the main one that always sticks out in the history of WWII is the persecution and attempted extermination of the Jews. This essay combined with the images that are often in the text books will get them thinking.

I am a firm believer that often times we coddle children and in doing so we cause an almost stunted form of growth. History is what teaches us the mistakes and triumphs (the things we got right) of the human race. If we sugar coat or ignore all sides then the lesson is lost and we disadvantage future generations. High school students are more than capable of handling this type of history assignment, unless times have changed that much since I had WWII history I am sure that they have already been exposed to black and white pictures of the mass graves, the emaciated bodies of the lucky ones who were liberated...let them the see the evil that caused it, for by understanding how that evil festered and took root it can help so that perhaps it never does again.
06/07/2013
null null
I think it is a very important type of assignment. If we teach children only to blindly follow what they are told, this is good, this is bad, they will have no basis to really tell right from wrong. By ignoring the side of the Nazis, children do not learn why their actions were wrong, they simply blindly follow Nazi =bad, which is no better than the ridiculous rhetoric racism spread in the past.
06/07/2013
sXeVegan90 sXeVegan90
I honestly don't think she should be fired.
06/07/2013
sunflower sunflower
Here's my question. She is an ENGLISH TEACHER. Teaching students English. If it was a history class and this was during a lesson on the Holocaust, I wouldn't really agree with it, but it would be less out of place. Is "write anti-semetic papers" part of the English curriculum? Lmao. Like was this really a necessary assignment?

These articles aren't telling me much specific, but I think it was extremely insensitive to the Jewish and minority students. I'd be offended too if a teacher asked me to write that! I get that they're trying to teach about the other perspective, but really. The Holocaust is a very touchy subject (no shit, it's genocide) and the teacher should have known to be more sensitive about it.

The "write an essay blaming Jews" thing is really weird and makes no sense. The fact that she gave them a packet of Nazi propaganda beforehand is weirder. The articles are extremely vague, but I definitely think she should be reprimanded. I wouldn't really care if the teacher was fired and I wouldn't feel bad for them.
06/07/2013
Living Doll Living Doll
I don't think she should be fired.
06/09/2013
TWE112 TWE112
I don't think she should be punished at all. First of all the holocaust and Nazi party are a part of history whether we like it or not. I took German in high school and my teacher took half of the room (the jews) and made them sit in the back of the room and just copy dictionaries nonstop as the other group (nazis) could yell and do whatever they pleased. It was a stronger learning experience than just telling us that Nazis had power over jews. So no, I dont think she did anything wrong.
06/09/2013
LoveX LoveX
I don't think she should be fired, but I can't say that I would want my kids to write something like that. I think a better alternative would be to teach that Nazis weren't all these crazed monsters. They were German soldiers, they didn't come out of the womb to create hate and death.
06/09/2013
SourAppleMartini SourAppleMartini
What a retarded reason to fire someone. The whole situation is absurd. We encourage democracy and freedom of speech and yet we can't exactly do that, because there are always people who get offended. I have Jewish blood, a bunch of my relatives died during WWII and I don't think there is anything wrong with this assignment. I actually applaud this teacher for encouraging children to tackle this sensitive issue. There is nothing worse than ignorance.
06/09/2013
surreptitious surreptitious
Quote:
Originally posted by spiced
A teacher in Albany, NY is in trouble for giving her students an unusual assignment: she asked them to write an essay to convince an imaginary Nazi official of their loyalty. Read all about it. About a third of the students refused to do the ... More
I think that her stance is an admirable one, and that her students were very close-minded in refusing to do this assignment. I should think that by the time you make it to high school, you're mature enough to tackle sensitive issues without crying to your parents about how horrible the teacher's being in asking you to try to imagine things from a historical point of view. I think that it would have been awful to be on either side in that war, but if my family was at stake, who knows how far I would have gone. Many Germans started out believing that Hitler was doing a great thing - he targeted the homeless and those suffering from mental illness before he ever got to the Jewish, homosexual, Polish, black, etc, and many people thought that the country was a better place because of it. That's part of how it was so easy for him to gain such a large following in the first place.

I mean, Hitler was just a normal man. He did horrible, horrible things, but he didn't do them because he was evil, he did them because he thought that they were right. He was obviously wrong, but it would have been super interesting to research that and write about how horrible the war was from that side. I mean, there may have been some Nazis who were sadistic or power-hungry and enjoyed themselves, but the vast majority of people find that war is awful once they get there. Writing a letter to prove your loyalty to your leader could be a very powerful lesson. I especially think that the way that the students reacted could have proved that. They were disgusted by the thought of it, as were tons of Germans who did what they had to do to save their lives or their families.

I don't think that the wording of the assignment is particularly horrible - how else could it have been worded? It ticks me off that the article quotes a single line about the argument that "Jews are evil," as it seems to me that there was probably a lot more surrounding it. The closing lines of the article make the assignment seem perfectly rational. She's not asking the students to post why they agree with Nazism, she's asking them to do something that they find appalling, and that makes this lesson even more powerful.

I think that a lot of good points have been made in this thread, but that unless there was something in that assignment that we're not seeing, the superintendent is full of shit and the community is trying to be politically correct to a detriment of education.
06/09/2013
Total posts: 30
Unique posters: 29