I’m still reflecting on yesterday’s article in the Sac Bee about French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s controversial mandate that all 5th graders “adopt the memory of one of the 11,000 Jewish children in France killed in the Holocaust, learning about the selected child’s background and fate.” And following that article, today’s article on UC Davis students attending a conference to learn what they can do to stop the genocide in Darfur. These two projects involve students from ages 10 through adult. Is there a minimum age level for teaching about genocide?
The above articles are coming on the heels of a recent Teachers Teaching Teachers Skypecast during which someone in the chat room (Mr. Mayo?) introduced the Many Voices of Darfur blogging and wiki project, an invitation for students to make their voices heard to a worldwide audience.
Apparently, students as young as 3rd grade will be participating in this project and posting to the blog for 48 hours on March 4.
In my school district, I think many 5th grade teachers introduce the word “genocide” in 5th grade, as they delve into the unit on Columbus’s arrival to the “New World,” but without the availability of primary source documents such as those that tell of the last hours of individual Jewish children removed from Paris to extermination camps.
Last week I visited an elementary school library that happened to have on display 4th graders’ California Mission projects, including models (parent-done, I’m pretty sure) and some tri-fold displays (which also looked parent done). Kind of took me back to my 4th grade days. However, I’m still thinking about the tri-fold, I believe on Mission San Juan Capistrano, that included the statement “the local Indians were friendly and happy to work.” Maybe 4th graders are too young to learn about the government sanctioned genocide of California Indians, but I suspect that 4th graders at this school will end their year without a clue that “missionization” was NOT mutually beneficial.
But again I ask, at what age do we introduce students to “genocide”?