world history, family history

did the UK stop teaching the holocaust for fear of reprisal from muslims?

contrary to what i’ve heard on the internet grapevine, that’s not the case, according to the BBC. however, there is at least one school in the UK that stopped including it in the curriculum:

when he commissioned the report last year, schools minister lord adonis said the national curriculum encouraged teachers to choose content “likely to resonate in their multicultural classrooms” – but some found it difficult to do that.

the historical association report claimed: “teachers and schools avoid emotive and controversial history for a variety of reasons, some of which are well-intentioned.

“staff may wish to avoid causing offence or appearing insensitive to individuals or groups in their classes.

“in particular settings, teachers of history are unwilling to challenge highly contentious or charged versions of history in which pupils are steeped at home, in their community or in a place of worship.”

the report gave the example of a history department in a northern city, which decided not to teach the holocaust as a topic for GCSE coursework.

i think that’s worrisome enough.

as a therapist, of course this makes me think of what goes on in families. a client, let’s call him kim, once told me how disoriented he feels because there are big gaps in his family “story” caused by the vietnam war. his parents, who had escaped the hell of that country only to live through the hell of first being “boat people” and then the somewhat lesser but still quite unpleasant circumstances of living in a refugee camp, will not speak about that ordeal.

kim is already experiencing the uncertainty that comes with being brought up by an asian family in a western culture. in order to grapple with who he is, he craves history, he wants to know where he came from. but his parents are unable to talk about this important part of their history. understandably, they try to cope with the pain – posttraumatic stress disorder, perhaps – by shoving all these horrible experiences into a dark corner.

maybe this is what caused his mothers’ migraines and his father’s frequent bursts of violent temper – who knows, i’ve never met them. kim, on the other hand, is not “just” dealing with an identity crisis – he experiences debilitating problems, from almost paralyizing procrastination which has already cost him thousands of dollars (not to mention days and days of agony) to aggravated asthma to severe insomnia. he literally feels no ground under his feet. in a way, he is still with his parents on that unspeakably terrifying boat trip.

i feel for the parents. the thought of touching these wounds is agonizing. it is understandable that they just want to stay away from them as far away as possible. they don’t know, or maybe don’t want to know, that the reason why this is so agonizing is precisely because the wounds are still festering. bringing them out in the light will make it so much easier to heal them.

and so it is with many parts of world history, including the holocaust. yes, it is painful, it’ll shake people up, it’ll make people mad. but if we bury it, it will fester.

let’s hold it up to the light!

isabella mori
counselling in vancouver

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