The Holocaust is probably one of the more widely taught, if not the most widely taught, historic event in the social studies classrooms. We start teaching about it in middle school years (sometimes even in upper elementary years). Kids enjoy it and find the content more engaging than most other topics of history. It should be taught. But, it should be taught alongside other stories of crimes committed against humanity.I always wondered why other such events were not taught in the American classrooms. The reasons may be many but they are all irrelevant for the purpose of this post. More importantly however, due to that thinking I came to the realization that it’s the bigger issue of genocide, of which the Holocaust is a terribly perfect example of, that should be the primary unit of study. Some teachers would argue, “But, there’s “so much” in the Holocaust that you have to just focus on that one event to teach it well.” They are absolutely correct in that the Holocaust has been extensively written about with a ton of excellent resources very easily available that are tailored for teaching it across all grade levels. However, this argument can be true for most topics.
One can choose the smallest of topics/events in history and teach it the whole year (I exaggerate a bit, of course). So, I feel teaching kids about genocide is not only more relevant but also a better teaching approach when we are trying to teach our kids to be global citizens. The genocide approach gives a more global view of the issues we talk about (human rights-minority rights, cruelty, propaganda, violence, human behavior, etc.) during the teaching of the Holocaust as well; however, teaching these themes through the Holocaust alone certainly gives a limited and restricted view of world history.
A similar view is presented in the article below: