Students at Garfield Park Academy often struggle to accept social differences and to look outside the box. The students we serve have emotional, learning and behavioral disabilities that have prevented them from succeeding in almost every other school setting. Prior to viewing the movie, my students had very little background knowledge surrounding the Holocaust. Students in my history classes groaned when they learned it was a documentary. I repeatedly heard, “Why can’t we watch The Boy in the Striped Pajamas?” After persisting and pushing through the first day of viewing, the students asked if we could continue to watch A Journey into the Holocaust.
After viewing the movie we discussed not only the hatred towards the Jewish people, but we discussed the hatred our students have felt at times. Students were asked to use Chrome Books to supplement their research and to formulate ways to prevent genocide in the future. The curriculum that was provided was helpful in guiding the students’ discussions. It both caused students to use a higher level of thinking when answering questions and also ensured that they were paying attention to the details. The students provided excellent, genuine responses. Please see below for some thoughtful excerpts from our students’ responses.
After seeing the effects of the Holocaust, I think that genocides must be prevented. To this day we still have them. I think if everyone stopped being so judgmental and racist we would not have this problem. As a planet we also need to start doing a better job of sharing resources. That will prevent war. If everybody was on board with this I believe we would not have to worry about genocides. It just seems near impossible for people to agree.
-17 year old New Jersey Student
Hitler was the leader of the Nazi Party. Hitler’s soldiers killed Jewish people, Gypsies, Africans, intellectuals, and anyone who was disabled physically or mentally. He had concentration camps that he kept these people in for as long as he was in power. He thought that everyone except his people were an infection, a parasite to everyone and that they were lazy and didn’t pull their own weight in work. The Holocaust occurred from January 30, 1933 from May 8, 1945.
-14 year old New Jersey student
Genocide can be prevented by accepting others for who they are. Make lots of friends and always accept things how they are. Do not dislike people for what they are wearing or how they act. The point is do not judge people.
-14 year old New Jersey student
We should pay more attention during elections. Let’s look at Hitler, he was in jail in 1920s he read books about law and he got elected in Germany. The result of this was the Holocaust. This man was a convict and he was running a country. We need to keep more eyes on everything that is going on. Other countries need more government than just one leader.
-15 year old New Jersey student
We need to understand genocide. We need to know where these kind of things happen. Government needs to have early warning to predict when genocides will happen. We need to know when genocide is going to happen. These are some ways that we can prevent genocide from happening.
-16 year old New Jersey student
These are a few examples of our students’ thoughts about ways to prevent another act of genocide from occurring. This documentary allowed the students to realize that genocide can happen anywhere and that no place is immune to the tragedy that can occur when a group of people label, stereotype and scapegoat another group of people. As a result of this movie, the staff in the school have seen a higher level of empathy and thinking towards sensitive subjects from our students. It has also enabled mature and insightful discussion regarding sensitive issues and allowed the students to discuss the resulting situations appropriately. A Journey into the Holocaust made more of an impact on my students than any other educational resource I have used throughout my teaching career.
Stephanie Lewis, Teacher of History (for last five years)