How to teach controversial periods in history to empower students

Teaching about controversial periods in history such as Nazi Germany and the Holocaust can lead to citizen empowerment by showing people the worst conditions the world ever knew and how people can rise above them. Rather than concentrate on victimization and anger, students can learn about empowerment and teachers can lead the way.

Other controversial periods in history include slavery in America, the Roman Empire, the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and almost all wars.

How do teachers use these controversial periods in history to build empowerment in students to overcome these horrible acts and work as citizens for the greater good of the world without victimization and anger? Here are some examples:

The Holocaust

Teachers can challenge students to think about ways to bring peace to the world and engage in peaceful acts rather than rebellious and malicious acts, by first “loving their neighbors.” It can start in their own community such as their classroom, their school, and their neighborhoods. Teachers can teach about cultural diversity and the wrongness of stereotyping and racism, and hate crimes. Students can practice being kind to fellow students rather than bullying them. Students can be encouraged to be kind to their neighbors and peers, not to make fun of anyone and not to indulge in gossip; and to do community service work and volunteer work such as in soup kitchens, hospitals, nursing homes,and other community organizations.

With regard to a failing economy, teachers can stress that it is important not to blame others, be it a government, a political party, or a group of people that you feel may be different than yourself. Remember that blaming during World War II erupted in unspeakable acts and violence against the Jewish people. Blaming leads to scapegoating – the blaming of the innocent.

The first atomic bombs

Teachers can teach about nuclear arms by instilling moral ideas about what is right. Nuclear arms must not continue anywhere and it is important to rid the world of any type of nuclear proliferation. The first nuclear bomb ended the war but also destroyed the lives of many people. Rather than blame anyone though, it is important to learn from this historical experience that even though it ended the unspeakable acts of Japan’s regime it was also an unspeakable act in and of itself.

The role of government

Teachers can teach about getting involved with local governments. The more involvement at the lowest level of government can empower the people to set good examples for their children and their communities.

Governments must be legal, legitimate, and support their constitutions. This should start at the lowest levels in government – at city and county governments. Instead of looking to the federal government for economic support they should spend the money wisely that the federal government already allotted them. Then they should find ways to build up their own economic treasury through city and county programs that enlist community volunteers.

Therefore teachers can empower students to get involved as early as possible in the political process of their country in order to help to establish humane programs and to stem the tide of dictatorships and corruption in government.

In conclusion, it is very important for teachers to address the worst periods in human history in order to challenge students to find ways to bring greater morality and peace to the world and empower students to become the best source for new beginnings with new and better ways of creating a peaceful planet without victimization and anger.