The Holocaust in the Classroom: History, Activism, and Upstanding
In the fall of 2018, after a slew of other antisemitic and racist hate crimes on campus, a student at Oak Park & River Forest (OPRF) High School airdropped a swastika during an assembly. In the aftermath, OPRF history teacher Michael Soffer created and implemented a Holocaust Studies elective course, one of the few Holocaust elective courses in a public high school. Soffer’s course addressed the widespread reality that, though terms like the “ghettos,” “camps,” and “genocide” have become part of our lexicon, Americans’ knowledge of the Holocaust is often shallow. This talk will discuss how and why Holocaust education is a uniquely powerful tool to reducing antipathy towards the other, how Holocaust education can be used to promote empathy and upstanding and will consider the issues and problems that arise in teaching and discussing the Holocaust and genocide in the classroom.