A PORTION of a memorial to the victims of the Holocaust at Yad Vashem..
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The Association of Kindergarten Teachers has called on all preschool and kindergarten teachers not to teach children from three to six years of age about the Holocaust.
“Studying the Holocaust in preschools from age three to six, year after year, hurts them and causes damage and trauma, and certainly does not give them any understanding or values whatsoever,” Dorit Hazan, chairman of the association said on Monday, ahead of this week’s Holocaust Remembrance Day.
“I have no doubt that we must convey knowledge about the Holocaust, but absolutely not at a preschool age,” she said. “It is possible and desirable to wait with the study of the Holocaust [until] at a later stage.”
Hazan explained that teachers are instructed to “use their judgment and choose the way to pass on the information” to their pupils.
Every year, there are teachers who choose to address the Holocaust
and attempt to explain it to children in an oversimplified manner.
“Years of childhood education have taught me that there is no way and no need to discuss it at all,” Hazan said.
“We, the teachers, are on the ground and encounter the inability to understand the magnitude of the disaster, and the fear that was sown into children from exposing them to an unnecessary subject,” she said. “If adults find it hard to grasp the magnitude of the horror and the magnitude of the evil of the Holocaust, so how can children who do not yet know what bereavement and loss are?” Hazan said that the historic and traditional stories of Hanukka, Purim and Passover are conveyed to children in a very simplistic, fun and positive way, using “happy symbols.”
“The chances that a child will develop fear are so high that we prefer to skip all the bad and leave the innocence in the minds and thoughts of the children,” she said.
“We need to ask ourselves each time anew: What values is a child given from our messages? Is he able at this stage of his life to understand the message? If the message sows terror in him... why should we do this?” she added.
“If children ask questions, it is worthy of answering them in an objective manner, but do not initiate a discourse on the issue,” she said.
Hazan called on all teachers of pre-school children to avoid teaching about the Holocaust entirely, saying “they know best” what the children need.