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Using Lessons Learned Through a Study of the Holocaust to Teach Children to Become Upstanders

“…Thou shall not be a perpetrator;

      Thou shall not be a victim:

      And thou shall never, but never, be a bystander.”

                                                            Yehuda Bauer

For more than half a century now, the world has wondered how the Holocaust could have happened.  How is it possible that millions of people were murdered and no one heard and no one spoke out to stop it? Through this unit, students will become links in the chain of witness as they come to understand one of the most painful lessons of history – the price, in human terms, of being a bystander, of remaining passive in the face of human suffering. Students will also learn though, that it is possible to act to prevent, or at least to inhibit injustice by becoming an upstander – someone who can and will speak up when they see something bad is happening.  Through the lessons in this unit, students will further strengthen their sense of self and develop an awareness of their common humanity with other people.  They will learn simple steps and actions to take in order to be prepared, when they see a need, to stand up/speak up. Students will identify role models- ordinary people who have done extraordinary things, and, finally, they will practice becoming upstanders in their school, home, or community. This unit is designed to be implemented in a 5th grade classroom during the literacy block over the course of approximately three weeks.


Joyce Arnosky
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