The Rialto Unified School District of California has given 8th grade students an assignment to “consider whether the systematic killing by the Nazis of some 6 million Jews and millions of others — was not an ‘actual event’ but instead a ‘propaganda tool that was used for political and monetary gain.’”
Per KTLA TV: “The English/Language Arts assignment…asked students to write an argumentative essay about the Holocaust describing ‘whether or not you believe this was an actual event in history, or merely a political scheme created to influence public emotion and gain wealth.’
“The 18-page assignment instructions included three sources that students were told to use, including one that stated gassings in concentration camps were a ‘hoax’ and that no evidence has shown Jews died in gas chambers.
“’With all this money at stake for Israel, it is easy to comprehend why this Holocaust hoax is so secretly guarded,’ states [a] source, which is a attributed to a webpage on biblebelievers.org.au. ‘In whatever way you can, please help shatter this profitable myth. It is time we stop sacrificing America’s welfare for the sake of Israel and spend our hard-earned dollars on Americans.'”
Per district spokesperson Syeda Jafri, the project was designed by district teachers and assigned during the eighth grade’s “Diary of Anne Frank” unit, and intended to enhance critical thinking skills under the aegis of the Common Core state standards. School board member Joe Martinez chimed in in a Friday e-mail: “One of the most important responsibilities for educators is to develop critical thinking skills in students. This will allow a person to come to their own conclusion. Current events are part of the basis for measuring IQ. The Middle East, Israel, Palestine and the Holocaust are on newscasts discussing current events. Teaching how to come to your own conclusion based on the facts, test your position, be able to articulate that position, then defend your belief with a lucid argument is essential to good citizenship. This thought process creates the foundation for a good education. The progression is within district board policy and also supports the district’s student inspired motto: ‘Today’s Scholars, Tomorrow’s Leaders.’”
Ms. Jafri also stated that the school district had received no complaints about the assignment from teachers, administrators, or parents. The kerfuffle only started when The Sun had gotten a copy off the assignment and publicized it. Then, and only then, did the Rialto school system apparatchiki admit that there was a problem with giving such an assignment to 8th-graders. Ms. Jafri hurriedly e-mailed that “there is no doubt the Holocaust was one of the most horrific, traumatic time-pieces in our history,” adding that the Interim Superintendent, Muhammad Z. Islam, “was set to talk with administrators to ‘assure that any references to the holocaust ‘not occurring’ will be stricken on any current or future Argumentative Research assignments…'”
[Wondering, at this point, what a time-piece in history is, but okay…]
What can one say except: there is critical thinking, and then there is “critical thinking.”
Critical thinking, the real thing that is, is something to be lauded. It is the ability to reason accurately on the basis of evidence, using induction and deduction when appropriate, and questioning even the evidence itself. This presupposes a certain degree of foundational knowledge (and yes, there is such a thing as knowledge) as well as knowledge about knowledge and the nature of evidence, and even knowledge about our capacity to know. When this foundational knowledge is lacking, as is the case with children, it must be imparted. This, presumably, is the task of the teaching establishment; and for this, teachers must have critical thinking skills themselves. Thus equipped, teachers would give age-appropriate assignments given to their students, always bearing in mind the fact that children are easily swayed; that few children have the knowledge to break out of the box and state that an assignment is nonsense; and even if they did have the knowledge, they would likely fear the consequences of not conforming.
But when you have children teaching children, as seems to be the case in the Rialto School District, what you get is “critical thinking:” a mockery of the real thing which features the ability to reason, but in a vacuum, without the requisite foundational knowledge. That’s indoctrination, not education, made worse by Common Core State Standards which ask students to make arguments and defend their answers “based on texts they have read.”
Such power infantile educators now have! A small group of them, the proverbial CORE committee, gets to choose the texts, thereby shaping – and twisting – young minds.
Over to the Near East….
The Palestinian Media Watch reports that a Hamas-produced weekly children’s show Tomorrow’s Pioneers implores young children to shoot all the Jews. (h/t Weasel Zippers) Killing Jews and Holocaust denial are integral parts of a steady diet fed to children in Muslim countries.
Today’s Scholars, Tomorrow’s Leaders, indeed.