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July 24th, 2014

Reiss’s Pieces

 

When I was in college I had to write a thesis about something pertinent, and I decided to write about what happened to the Jews during WWII. In order to write it, I had to read anything and everything that I could find on the subject. At the same time, my best friend and someone who also shared the same major as I did, was Jewish. I had spent many happy days with her family and celebrated many of their holidays, eating the wonderful food her mother sent to her so she could celebrate, too. As I read all that I could find on my subject, I started to have terrible dreams, all of which she was the star! And because we were such good friends, I shared with her my dreams and sleepless nights. I never did write my thesis because she asked me not to because our sharing of my dreams were causing her problems that she didn’t need. So, of course, I stopped.

 

As an adult, a mother and wife, and also as a member of a Vermont community, I have never forgotten what I read but pushed those thoughts to the back of my mind. However, also as an adult, I have read many books about the holocaust and the German “solution” to keep Germany an Aryan state. And today, as I continued reading yet another book called Life in a Jar I just couldn’t let my thoughts go without sharing them!

 

I find it amazing and outrageous that there are people in Germany, and around the world, that don’t know about the holocaust or don’t believe that it happened. How can we not teach our children and grandchildren what happened so that nothing like that can ever happen again?

 

I believe that the teaching and discussions of slavery in our country teaches our children about a time in our history that we are not proud of. And I believe that by teaching about slavery and man’s inhuman treatment of man, we are able to show our children how to behave today. We have a long way to go for actual equality for every man, woman and child, but I also think that we have gone a long way. Nothing demonstrates how to behave and how to treat people better than looking at history. To just close your eyes and refuse to discuss what is actually history – and not a fictional story that is sensationalized to make one country or group of people “look bad” – is totally unacceptable.

 

Every time I hear about a school district in Vermont that has decided to eliminate certain areas of study, it makes me crazy. How can we even begin to educate our children if we eliminate things that they need to know? I am sure most of you had to study and learn Civics when you were in school, but in most schools today, it is considered not necessary to know! And history is too boring to teach and keep the students’ attention. Can you imagine such stupidity? And eliminating Advanced Placement studies because it makes some children feel bad, is beyond ridiculous!

 

The United States, the best and the most wonderful country in the world is 24th in the world, I believe, in educating our children. How can that be? We should be number one. But we now appear to believe that even if you can’t read, write or add a column of figures, you should be able to graduate from high school. And why? Because you will feel bad about yourself if you don’t! Absolute nonsense.

 

I firmly believe that history is an opportunity for today’s students to learn what went on in the world before they were in it. And that every country in the world today should do the same. If our children don’t know what happened before, the good and the bad, how can they make the right decisions on how to behave now? We need to teach our children well and then all of us will reap the benefits of good educations and good problem solving in today’s close-knit world!

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