Teaching Profession

Teacher Tells Students to Take Nazi Viewpoint

By Francesca Duffy — April 17, 2013 1 min read
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Here’s the latest in homework-assignment mishaps: A 10th grade English teacher in Albany, N.Y., asked her students to write an essay from the point of view of a Nazi and to argue that “Jews are evil,” according to The New York Times. The students were instructed to use historical propaganda and the skills that they learned in history class to construct their argument. The case bears similarities to an incident that occurred last month in a New York City school, when a math teacher asked students to solve problems about slaves getting “whipped.”

Marguerite Vanden Wyngaard, the superintendent of the Albany school district, made a public apology last week, and said that though she does not believe “malice was the intent” behind the assignment, the teacher exhibited “a severe lack of judgment and a horrible level of insensitivity.”

Reactions from the community have been mixed. One local rabbi told the paper that the assignment was “flawed in its essence.” A student in the class said the teacher was just trying to teach different points of view. Another rabbi, Donald P. Cashman, argued that “hypothetical situations are often effective teaching tools,” and that the assignment corresponded with Holocaust Remembrance Day (which took place on April 8).

According to Wyngaard, the teacher is facing disciplinary action, with the possibility of termination.

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Teaching Now blog.