Teaching proactivity over complacency

Imagine the scene: you are in a classroom, taking notes like any good student, yet the concepts being taught differ greatly from other classes. The teacher poses questions about society and human behavior. This course, titled Holocaust, is perhaps one of the most unique offerings at Jesuit High School.

Holocaust is a Senior class taught by Mrs. Friedman since its inception in 2001. Her hopes are to shed light on an ugly part of history in a way that teaches students how to prevent such things from happening in the future.

“I really want the class to encourage and inspire students to question and think for themselves,” said Mrs. Friedman. “We look at difficult subjects and wrestle with uncomfortable ideas.”

Students have taken Mrs. Friedman’s lessons to heart. Kevin Wells ’18, a Senior who took Holocaust in the Fall semester, is one of many students who learned how and why the actions of the past can and should be avoided.

“I think understanding the past to protect the future is a big part of what I learned in this class,” said Kevin.

Mrs. Friedman has taught Holocaust for 17 years, making countless impressions on students like Kevin. However, after such a long time of teaching the same topic, Mrs. Friedman began to think it was time for a change in the 2017-2018 school year.

“I was ready to teach something different and have considered a class on Modern Middle East History or The Cold War,” said Mrs. Friedman. “But in today’s political and social climate, I feel that this course is necessary and appropriate for developing Men for Others.”

Mrs. Friedman feels it is important to continue teaching about the Holocaust in order to give students the perspective they need as they plunge into the complex and varied political environment of our postmodern world. This mindset allows students to become proactive in society, rather than become bystanders.

“It is important that we take responsibility for our own actions and be proactive in being members of society,” said Mrs. Friedman. “Too many people turn away from political, social, and economic injustices and it is imperative that we don’t be those people […] I want to help teach my students how to do this and support them in having the courage to stop injustice.”

Holocaust’s unique lessons about the world make it more than just an ordinary high school course because it enables students to become “Men for Others.”