Saturday, April 13, 2013

Teacher Put On Leave After 'Nazi' Assignment

NEW YORK — Albany school district officials have placed a high school teacher on leave for having students pretend to be Jew-hating Nazis in a writing assignment.

The teacher at Albany High School caused a storm of criticism after having students to practice the art of persuasive argument by writing a letter to a fictitious Nazi government official arguing that “Jews are evil.”

District Superintendent Marguerite Vanden Wyngaard held a news conference Friday apologizing for the assignment.

The Times Union reports that the teacher, who the district did not name, was not in class Friday and has been placed on leave.

Read more at: TimesUnion


While antisemitism and Holocaust history are certainly sensitive issues, this seems like knee-jerk reaction to a legitimate writing assignment. When studying the art of persuasive argument, one must challenge their own belief systems, and strive to be "shocking" or to make the most unacceptable premise, acceptable. That is the very nature of the lesson. In this manner not only does the student learn to be persuasive in their own arguments, but more importantly perhaps, learns how persuasive argument can be used to lead a person to accept what they might normally otherwise find unacceptable. Such a lesson teaches a student, in essence, how not to be brainwashed by media rhetoric.

If you have never read it, I suggest this classic lesson on persuasive argument.

A Modest Proposal

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