UK: Shoah left out of history lessons

Teachers drop "controversial subjects" to avoid causing offense to students.

strike 298  (photo credit: jerusalem post)
strike 298
(photo credit: jerusalem post)
Some British schools are dropping the Holocaust from history lessons to avoid offending Muslim students, a government-sponsored survey has revealed. Teachers are afraid to confront anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial among Muslim pupils, according to a Historical Association survey funded by the Department for Education and Skills, The Daily Mail reported. The study examined "emotive and controversial" history teaching in schools. Researchers gave an example of a high school in the north of England that dropped the Holocaust as a subject of study. The report went on to say that in another department at the school, the Holocaust is taught despite anti-Semitic sentiment among pupils. The same department, however, avoids teaching the Crusades for fear of "Muslim rage" since their "balanced treatment of the topic would have challenged what was taught in some local mosques." The report said some schools are using history "as a vehicle for promoting political correctness." A different school found itself "strongly challenged by some Christian parents for their treatment of the Arab-Israeli conflict and the history of the State of Israel that did not accord with the teachings of their denomination," according to The Daily Mail report. Karen Pollock, chief executive of the Holocaust Educational Trust, said: "It is our understanding that this is not representative of the majority of schools in the UK and that the case in question was just one example brought to light by the Historical Association. However, this does not detract from the seriousness of the situation and highlights that more sufficient monitoring of how Holocaust education is taught in schools is needed. "The HET teaches about the Holocaust not only for its own sake but for the lessons it holds for today and for the future. We work with thousands of teachers across the UK ensuring that they are equipped and able to deal with the issues that arise from this subject, sensibly and sensitively. "We find that learning about the Holocaust can inspire young people to make a difference today - whether it is in their own communities, such as campaigning against far-right groups that promote hate and division or further afield, raising awareness about current genocide such as Darfur which we're witnessing today. "Holocaust education is crucial for young people to see where extremism can lead. That is why we are delighted at the government's decision to support our project taking thousands students from across the country to Auschwitz-Birkenau to see the horror of the Holocaust. Many of them return not just with a deeper understanding of the past but with a real mission for the future - to ensure that such events are never allowed to happen again."