Students at a school in Albany were assigned to think like a Nazi and make a persuasive argument about why Jews are evil.
“You need to pretend that I am a member of the government in Nazi Germany, and you are being challenged to convince me that you are loyal to the Nazis by writing an essay convincing me that Jews are evil and the source of our problems,” the teacher told the students.
The students at Albany High School were told to watch and read Nazi propaganda, then review the definitions of Logos (persuasion by reasoning), Pathos (persuasion by emotional appeal), or Ethos (persuasion by the author’s character).
“Choose which argument style will be most effective in making your point,” the teacher wrote on the assignment. “Your life [here in Nazi Germany in the 30’s] may depend on it!”
The students had five paragraphs (an introduction, three argument points, and a conclusion) to make their points.
Albany Superintendent Marguerite Vanden Wyngaard told the Times Union that the assignment should have been worded differently.
“I would apologize to our families,” she said. “I don’t believe there was malice or intent to cause any insensitivies to our families of the Jewish faith.”
One-third of the students refused to complete the assignment, which was given to three sophomore English classes.
Vanden Wyngaard later said that officials are discussion whether to and what action to take against the unidentified teacher that gave the assignment, considering up to a dismissal.
She called the assignment “completely unacceptable,” and said “it displayed a level of insensitivity that we absolutely will not tolerate in our school community.”
A parent raised questions about the assignment, which is how it was originally found out.