Letter to Students

This reading is available in two formats: original and Spanish. Please select the version you wish to read using the dropdown below.

Dear students,

Welcome. You are about to begin a unit titled Teaching Holocaust and Human Behavior that was created by our organization, Facing History and Ourselves. You are joining a community of tens of thousands of students from around the world who have explored the same questions you are about to explore—questions such as: Who am I? What shapes my identity? Why do people form groups? What does it mean to belong? What happens when people are excluded from membership?

After taking part in a unit similar to the one you are about to study, one student said, “I’ve had 13 math classes, 20 English classes, 6 or 7 science classes, art, P.E., Spanish . . . but in all the time I’ve been in school, I’ve had only one class about being more human.” In the next few weeks, you will be learning a lot about the choices made by people living in Germany before and during the Holocaust, a tragic event in which millions of children, women, and men were murdered. At the same time, you will also be learning about yourselves and the world around you. That is what we mean by “Facing History and Ourselves.” As another former Facing History student explained, “When I took the Facing History course back in eighth grade, it helped me understand that history was a part of me and that I was a part of history. If I understood why people made the choices they did, I could better understand how I make choices and hopefully make the right ones.”

This unit may be different from others you have experienced. In this unit, you will be asked to share your own ideas and questions, in discussions and through writing in a journal. You will be asked to listen carefully to the voices of others—the voices of people in your classroom community as well as the voices of people in the history you are studying. In this unit, you may hear things that spark powerful emotions, such as anger or sadness. You will be asked to use both your head and your heart to make sense of the choices people have made in the past and the choices people continue to make today.

At Facing History, we like to think of a unit as a journey. When taking this journey, you need to bring your journal, your curiosity, an open mind, and a willingness to share. As you embark on and continue this journey with the students and adults in your classroom, it is important for you to support each other so that everyone can do their best learning. We wish you a meaningful journey during which you learn about the past and the present, about yourself and about others. You may even find that you have changed as a result of this experience.

Thank you for participating in this journey with us.

Facing History and Ourselves

Carta a los estudiantes

Estimados estudiantes:

Bienvenidos. Están a punto de comenzar una unidad llamada Enseñanza del Holocausto y el Comportamiento Humano, la cual fue creada por nuestra organización, Facing History and Ourselves. Se unirán a una comunidad de decenas de miles de estudiantes de todo el mundo que han analizado las mismas preguntas que ustedes están a punto de analizar; por ejemplo: ¿Quién soy? ¿Qué moldea a mi identidad? ¿Por qué las personas conforman grupos? ¿Qué significa pertenecer? ¿Qué ocurre cuando se excluyen a las personas de la pertenencia?

Luego de participar en una unidad similar a la que ustedes están a punto de estudiar, un estudiante dijo: “He tenido 13 clases de matemáticas, 20 clases de inglés, 6 o 7 clases de ciencias, artes, educación física y español… pero en todo el tiempo que he estado en la escuela , solo he tenido una clase sobre lo que significa ser más humano”. En las próximas semanas, aprenderán mucho sobre las decisiones que tomaron las personas que vivían en Alemania, antes y durante el Holocausto, un trágico acontecimiento en el que millones de niños, mujeres y hombres fueron asesinados. A la vez, aprenderán sobre ustedes mismos y sobre el mundo que los rodea. Eso es lo que queremos decir con “Facing History and Ourselves”. Otro antiguo estudiante de Facing History indicó: “Cuando tomé el curso de Facing History pude entender que la historia era parte de mí y que yo era parte de la historia. Si entendía por qué las personas tomaron sus decisiones, podría entender mejor cómo las tomo yo y, con suerte, tomaría las decisiones correctas”.

Esta unidad puede ser diferente de otras que hayan conocido. En esta unidad, se les pedirá que compartan sus propias ideas y preguntas, en discusiones y mediante el uso de un diario. Se les pedirá que escuchen atentamente las voces de los demás: las voces de las personas de la comunidad del aula de clase, así como las voces de las personas de la historia que están estudiando. En esta unidad, es posible que escuchen cosas que susciten emociones fuertes como la rabia o la tristeza. Se les pedirá que usen su cabeza y su corazón para encontrarle sentido a las decisiones que las personas tomaron en el pasado y las decisiones que las personas siguen tomando hoy en día.

En Facing History, nos gusta concebir cada unidad como una travesía. Al emprender esta travesía, ustedes deben traer su diario, su curiosidad, una mente abierta y la voluntad de compartir. Al emprender y continuar esta travesía con los estudiantes y adultos en su aula de clase, es importante el apoyo mutuo para que cada uno conciba su mejor aprendizaje. Les deseamos una travesía constructiva, en donde aprendan sobre el pasado y el presente, sobre ustedes mismos y sobre los demás. Podrán incluso llegar a pensar que han cambiado, a raíz de esta experiencia.

Gracias por participar en esta travesía con nosotros.

Facing History and Ourselves

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