The Holocaust and Character Education

Among young people, awareness of the horrific events of the Holocaust is lower than in the general population. As time passes, history fades and may be rewritten. New generations fail to pass on some of the most troubling aspects of the human experience. When this happens, history tends to repeat itself.

Conversation Builds Character is mounting an effort to change the future. There are discoverable societal and cultural conditions that are necessary to prevent intolerance, injustice, war and genocide from gaining a foothold. Those conditions are found in the human heart.

Traditionally, the Holocaust is taught based on historical data – dates, prominent political leaders, facts and figures. Teaching the Holocaust from behavioral and ethical perspectives is rather new. But, according to the U.S. Holocaust Museum, the reasons to examine the events of the Holocaust in such ways are compelling.

First, the Holocaust is one of the most effective subjects for examining basic moral issues. Second, the historical circumstances and events provide critical lessons for an investigation into human behavior. Third, the Holocaust opens the door to conversations about one of the central goals of education in the U.S. – to teach students what it means to be responsible citizens (ushmm.org).

Conversation Builds Character seeks to examine the events of the Holocaust in order to help students understand the consequences of human actions and non-actions – both in the past and in our present day.

“ Only 54 percent of the people surveyed by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) in a massive, global poll have ever heard of the Holocaust. Even more disturbing, 32 percent of these believe the event to have been greatly exaggerated or a myth. That’s something worth worrying about.”

The WIRE, News from the Atlantic, May 13, 2014