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Educators Must Equip Students to Confront Rising Tide of Antisemitism

Longtime Facing History educator Bridget Riley believes teachers must empower students to examine their own choices in the face of injustice.

Facing History is pleased to share this piece from The Tennessean by Bridget Riley that was originally published on February 9, 2023

Early in my teaching career, I encountered my first Holocaust denier while teaching Elie Wiesel’s memoir Night in one of Nashville’s most diverse schools. I was completely unprepared for an 11th-grade student to raise his hand, hold up the harrowing book and say, “This story. I find this story difficult to believe because I’ve always been taught the Holocaust didn’t happen.”

Rather than ostracize the student or even correct his errant views, I began by calling him into a “circle of safety”—a class contract to value everyone’s humanity and to discuss ideas rather than individuals’ character. It may sound odd to create a safe space for a student who denies the Holocaust, but I had to set the example for the students that we can respect people and acknowledge someone’s humanity even when challenging them to think critically about what they believe to be true.

Read the full article here.