Albany students instructed to think like Nazis

Credit: Metro File Photo.
Credit: Metro File Photo.

Last Monday, an unidentified 10th-grade English teacher at Albany High School assigned her students a “persuasive writing” exercise telling them to pretend their teacher was a Nazi, the New York Times reported.

The students were reportedly told to use historical propaganda and a traditional high school essay structure — “five paragraphs long, with an introduction, three body paragraphs containing your strongest arguments, and a conclusion” — to argue that Jews were “the source of our problems.”

“You do not have a choice in your position,” the instructions reportedly read. “You must argue that Jews are evil, and use solid rationale from government propaganda to convince me of your loyalty to the Third Reich!”

The Albany schools superintendent, Marguerite Vanden Wyngaard, reportedly met with Jewish leaders in Albany and apologized, insisting, “that’s not the assignment that any school district, and certainly not mine, is going to tolerate.”

“Obviously, we have a severe lack of judgement and a horrible level of insensitivity,” she said.

But she added, “No one here believes that malice was the intent.”

According to Vanden Wyngaard, the assignment was meant to connect with a history lesson on the Holocaust. The Times noted that this echoed an earlier incident in a Manhattan elementary school, where math problems featuring the whipping and killing of slaves were assigned, reportedly in an effort to tie in a social studies lesson.

The instructions indeed said to use “what you’ve learned in history class,” as well as “any experiences you have.”

The assignment was given on Monday, which was Holocaust Remembrance Day.

The teacher was reportedly not in class on Friday and is facing disciplinary action that could include termination.

 

Follow Danielle Tcholakian on Twitter @danielleiat

 


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