One of the main reasons behind our decision to home educate our school age children was due to our jaded outlook on how watered down the school curriculum has become. In an effort to bolster school ratings, the education system has ineffectively put so much red tape in place for the educators that they are no longer allowed to teach the curriculum to its full context. This I feel is more or less due to the over extending need to be politically correct that leaves educators and parents feeling somewhat deflated and uninspired.
One of the topics that springs to mind whenever I speak about this with friends and families is the lack of resources made available to high school age students here in the UK with regards to World War 2, specifically the Holocaust, don't get me wrong there is the standard curriculum, but one only has to read through it to realise how vague and superficial the information is. My eldest (who just turned 13 a few days ago) is from this millennial generation that do not feel as passionate or as angry (as someone from my generation or even older would) about what happened to the 60 million that died during World War 2 . Or the fact that of that total number, 11 million died in concentration camps - 1.1 million of it being children; 6 million of it being Jews and the rest being LGBTQ individuals; the physically and mentally disabled; Roma (gypsies); Poles and other Slavic peoples; Jehovah's Witnesses and members of political opposition groups. (Just to give you a clearer idea of those numbers - the total number of people that died is equal to the population of the United Kingdom in its entirety; the number of children that died in the concentration camps is the entire population of Fiji and then some...)
Lately I have found myself engaging my girls in conversations regarding the loss that we as humanity experienced during this very dark time. Because of the lack of engaging activities available to my daughters' generation, I'm more or less always searching for available resources and incorporating it into our lesson plans. This year to allow them to fully appreciate the reading and visual aids we have been utilising in our lessons, we have decided to take our children to the Auschwitz-Birkenau Concentration Camp Memorial in Oswiecim, Poland. Although friends who have travelled to it have mentioned that it was hard going both emotionally & physically not only for them but also their children, I feel that this trip is important for us as a family to make. To prepare our girls for this trip in summer, we have been watching documentaries and reading age appropriate books that will hopefully help them understand and remember this particular dark history that humanity has. My education philosophy with my children has always been, if they're mature enough to ask me questions, then they're mature enough to get the full answer to their question regardless of their age. My 6 year old, although might be considered too young by some to be having these conversations with us about the atrocities of the concentration camps and the devastating effect of the Holocaust, has shown a very keen interest in the subject and in turn is asking in-depth questions about why were the Jews and other minorities that were killed, hated so much and why didn't anyone stand up for them? It's also making both of them think about the opportunities that they have as children of migrants here in the UK, how different their lives are and the freedoms they have as opposed to the 1.1 million children who died in the concentration camps. It's allowing us as parents to teach them to have empathy for their fellow man and to remember that just because someone or something is different does not mean that it should be seen as dangerous or a threat. It's also allowing us to incorporate life lessons into the academia side of things, in the hopes that the lessons they take away from this is, being silent leads to the demise of many and no man is an island.
My principle in life has always been, we must never forget what we as humans are capable of, be it success and celebration or heartbreak and destruction, and by not forgetting we allow ourselves to be the educators for the future generation. Educating them of what we should stand up and speak out against always... AND that kindness must always prevail in all that we do, something I cannot stress enough with my own children.
In the words of Billy Graham, "Auschwitz stands as a tragic reminder of the terrible potential man has for violence and inhumanity."
Love & Light,