A fifth grader in New Jersey wrote a biography on Adolph Hitler and even went to school dressed as him. The biography was on display in the hall with other biographies. The assignment’s goal was character development. In listing some of Hitler’s “accomplishments” the student wrote “My greatest accomplishment was uniting a great mass of German and Austrian people behind me.” He also wrote, “I was very popular and many people followed me until I died. My belif (sic) in antisemitism drove me to kill more than 6 million Jews.”
As you would imagine, people were upset. You can certainly argue Hitler had no character at all so forget about developing. Once the teacher gave the go ahead to write about Hitler I don’t have an issue with the report being displayed with the other reports. The time to squash the Hitler biography was when they were deciding who to write about. What is really crazy is that he went to school dressed as Hitler. At this point I wonder was this just an assignment or does this fifth grader idolize Hitler and come from a family that holds him in reverence. I would say yes. So what are the options?
Are you going to put an explanation on a fifth grader’s paper? Probably not. Clearly some type of education needs to happen as presumably a fifth grader can still be reached. It would stand to reason that Hitler did think highly of his deeds and misdeeds. In that way it would seem the student captured what Hitler might think. Hitler doesn’t strike me as the “my bad” type of guy.
I don’t think the student should be punished. Should the teacher be punished? Probably not. I mean school is a place to learn. However, this is certainly a fine opportunity to have a school wide assembly and have an age appropriate presentation about who exactly Hitler was and what he did.
I understand people are upset but the reality is we live in a world where people idolize Hitler. Let’s recognize that and try and do our best to make people understand my old adage…Nazis always bad.
We will discuss this and more on Tuesday at 6:30 PM Est.