Friday, July 20, 2007

Quick E-Mail Clarification

Jamie introduced me to a chain-letter beginning to make the rounds claiming that the UK has removed the Holocaust from its school curriculum to avoid offending radical Muslims who deny the Holocaust. I smelled a rat in here somewhere, but I had to check this out and see whether or not it was on the level.

After I researched this claim a bit, I can give it a Crap Percentage of 97%.

The truth: Here's the UK Daily Mail article on which the rumor was based. The article cites a couple of examples of teachers being reluctant to teach topics such as the Holocaust or the Crusades because of anti-Semitism among pupils. However, it quotes only one instance of a teacher actually dropping the Holocaust from the curriculum, and two instances of refusal to teach the Crusades.

Here's the Guardian's take, which says much the same thing. I'm not sure there's evidence for a trend if one school somewhere in England dropped the Holocaust, one school was worried about the reaction of students, and one school had Christians challenge the school's teaching.

We Americans are no strangers to wackos challenging school curricula, and as such, we should be wary of any attempt to take such anecdotal evidence and interpret it as some sort of trend.

(Also, I don't know how much the British Muslim mainstream engages in Holocaust denial - certainly American Muslim leaders routinely affirm (and denounce) the Holocaust, but of course shit gets weird when you cross the Atlantic.)

As for the official view of the UK's education board? The report was not specifically on the Holocaust, but rather, it dealt with the teaching of emotionally sensitive topics, and it proposed ways for teachers to deal with such topics in the classroom. The Holocaust is currently an optional part of the UK's official curriculum, as are the Crusades. The Guardian reports that the education department will make the Holocaust compulsory next year. So in reality, the British government is taking the exact opposite action from that which the e-mail rumor claims it is taking.

General rule of thumb - if it sounds too outrageous to be true, it probably is, so check up on it.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Well researched...would you care to point out that info to Sharon? And also point out that I did not forward you said e-mail, merely happened to read it while in your company? Hmm, though I suppose I just took care of the latter myself.

~Jamie

Laura said...

I applaud your efforts in this matter. Well debunked.

Now, is there anyway to get a reverse chain e-mail going on that one?

Laura said...

Eep, that's actually Matt (of Philosofickle). Apparently my wife is signed in. And I'm too lazy to sign her out and myself back in.