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August 06, 1993 - Image 51

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1993-08-06

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ne afternoon 26 years ago,
Loren Willey began teach-
ing what he would later
describe as "the world's
worst history class."
It was a hot 90 degrees
outside, and the students in
his class at Clio High were
miserable. The subject that
day was the Holocaust.
The school text-
book devoted sever-
al paragraphs to
the topic. Mr.
Willey finished by
showing the French
film Night and Fog.
The window shades
were up, to allow
cool air in, so it was
impossible to read
the subtitles.
This was not the way Mr.
Willey believed the
Holocaust should be taught.
And at the end of the day he
Then he took action.
Today, Mr. Willey is one

American adults
what the words
"the Holocaust"

of a handful of instructors
war (see adjacent story,
who teach the Holocaust at
"What They Don't Know").
Michigan schools. They
The survey also found
have virtually nothing in
that "sizable minorities of
common: not age, not reli-
Americans, both adults and
gion, not background, not
high-school students, are
teaching methods or cur-
open to the idea that the
riculum, not even their rea-
Holocaust did not happen."
son for wanting students to
Though a number of those
know about the murder of
interviewed were 60 and
the Six Million.
older, and thus lived
What they do share is a
through World War II, age
commitment to teaching a
was not a factor when it
complicated, painful subject
came to knowledge of the
that many consider
Holocaust. In fact, the
AJCommittee concluded,
The importance of their
only one issue proved key in
work is reflected in a recent
combatting ignorance of the
study, "What do Americans
Holocaust: education.
know about the Holocaust?"
At first glance, Loren
Conducted by the American
Willey hardly appears the
Jewish Committee, the sur- _ best candidate for teaching —
vey showed that about half
one of the greatest tragedies
of all American adults have
in Jewish history.
no idea what the words "the
Until he joined the Army,
Holocaust" refer to, while 65
he had never even met any- c-D
percent could not identify 6
one Jewish.
million as the number of
He grew up in Adrian, a
Jews murdered during the
small town about 90 miles




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