The construction of the American Holocaust curriculum / by Thomas D. Fallace.
Remembering the Holocaust has become a central part of American culture. The Holocaust has also become an important topic in the nation's schools. By the 1990s many states had adopted or mandated their own Holocaust curricula in addition to the dozens of organizations dedicated to Holocaust study and education in the United States. This rise in interest was accompanied by a public debate over how to represent the Holocaust properly in American life, making the Holocaust one of the most controversial historical topics of the late twentieth century. This study traced the construction of the Holocaust curriculum through historical case studies of five of the first Holocaust curricula taught in American classrooms, through which I present two major arguments. First, that Holocaust education was a grassroots movement engineered by school teachers—many of whom were not Jewish. These teachers introduced the Holocaust as way to help students navigate the moral and ethical dilemmas of the time. Certain researchers have suggested that Jewish elites pushed the Holocaust into the American consciousness, or that this interest was initiated by events in popular culture. My research will complicate both these claims. My second argument is that the intense debate over how to represent the Holocaust in the curriculum has been misinterpreted as a cultural clash over different interpretations of the event—the Jewish version vs. the “Americanized” one. This explanation is too simplistic. The controversy is better understood as a curricular debate over the teaching of history. For nearly a century, educational researchers, interest groups, and historians have argued over the role and purpose of history in the schools. Having entered into this debate, the topic of the Holocaust has made these issues more conspicuous to the general public.
Record last modified: 2018-05-16 16:15:00
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