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Jewish teacher suspended in France for teaching 'too much' about Holocaust

9:11 pm - 09/02/2010

 

A high school history teacher is accused of 'brainwashing' her students, says French news agency AFP.



A French history teacher in Nancy, France, has been suspended for breaching the principle of secularism and neutrality after the French education ministry concluded that she was teaching "too much" about the Holocaust and spending too much time organizing trips for her students to Nazi death camps in Poland and the Czech Republic.

Auschwitz train tracks AP january 1941

1941 photo showing the railroad tracks leading to the entrance of the concentration camp Auschwitz-Birkenau.

Photo by: AP

Catherine Pederzoli, 58, was investigated by officials at the education ministry, who released a report about the matter in July. The report accused the teacher of "lacking distance, neutrality and secularism" in teaching the Holocaust, and of manipulating her charges through a process of "brain-washing," according to the French news agency AFP.

In December, when the French Minister of Education Luc Chatel was visiting Pederzoli's high school, several of her students staged a protest over the decision to cut in half the number of students traveling to Poland on an upcoming trip, meant to acquaint the students with Nazi camps in the region. Pederzoli was accused of inciting the protest.

The principle of secularism and neutrality in France is meant to protect the separation of church and state. The ministry's report cites that in meeting with investigators, the teacher used the word "Holocaust" 14 times while using the more neutral term "massacre" only twice.

Pederzoli's lawyer, Christine Tadic, said Tuesday that Pederzoli had been organizing trips to concentration camps for the past 15 years, but that a change in the school's administration in 2007 had led to a witch hunt against her.

Tadic claimed that "had the teacher been Christian, no one would have accused her of brainwashing." Furthermore, she asked whether Pederzoli is in fact being blamed for being Jewish.

Also on Tuesday, Tadic filed for an injunction over the teacher's suspension. According to AFP, the court has 15 days to rule on the matter.

source: http://www.haaretz.com/jewish-world/jewish-teacher-suspended-in-france-for-teaching-too-much-about-holocaust-1.311452

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xforge 2nd-Sep-2010 07:23 pm (UTC)
Sorry, that's fucked. There isn't any possible way to teach anyone "too much" about that. People should have it drilled into their damn faces so that whenever *any* politician anywhere stands up and says THE PROBLEM IS BECAUSE OF ETHNIC GROUP XXXXX, we can all know to immediately take that politician, remove him or her from office and stuff him or her into a dark, smelly hole in the ground and forget about them.
cecilia_weasley 3rd-Sep-2010 07:42 am (UTC)
Except the French government is on a "pure French people" kick. js
thecityofdis 2nd-Sep-2010 07:24 pm (UTC)
what is this i don't even
mercaque 2nd-Sep-2010 07:25 pm (UTC)
What the hellllllll.
thelilyqueen 2nd-Sep-2010 07:25 pm (UTC)
I don't know what to make of this without more details, really. The Holocaust is certainly something we need to talk about, but I can see the school and educational ministry objecting if her '20th Century History' class was pretty much all on the Holocaust, she was making it a focus in classes on other eras, etc.
arisma 2nd-Sep-2010 08:02 pm (UTC)
This. If she's focusing on the Holocaust to the exclusion of other topics, yes, ok, I can see this. If she's passionate about educating about what happened and still covers what needs covering, I can't agree with this.
luomo 2nd-Sep-2010 07:29 pm (UTC)
i don't think this is a very good article. i'm not sure what to think about the whole situation.
fenris_lorsrai 2nd-Sep-2010 07:42 pm (UTC)
THIS. WTF. How is massacre more neutral?
neev 2nd-Sep-2010 07:35 pm (UTC)
Has France, like, gone insane recently or something? Is there something in the water over there?

The only way I could see this being slightly rational was if she was focusing solely on the Jews and completely excluding the other people there were persecuted and killed by the Nazis, but that doesn't sound like it was the case... I mean, I realize that "holocaust" is technically a religious term, or at least one that has religious roots, but I've never heard The Holocaust called anything else in a academic sense...though I haven't exactly read much on the matter. Is that different outside the US?

I'm just kind of baffled as to how distanced, neutral, and secular you can be when discussing the systematic extermination of people based their religion (as well as race and sexual orientation). Particularly "neutral" - if there's anything in the world you probably don't need to take a neutral tone about, it's the fucking Holocaust. I would like to hope that we, as a species, can label that as A Very Bad Thing. Though I guess not knowing what exactly the teacher said, it's hard to say - was she was going on about all Germans being monsters or something? That ALSO doesn't seem to be the case so I'm not sure what the problem is...
zombie_process 2nd-Sep-2010 09:02 pm (UTC)
The Holocaust called anything else in a academic sense...though I haven't exactly read much on the matter. Is that different outside the US?

Well, for instance, the LGBT victims are not honored in every cities in France. So yes, it can be an important issue here.
militsa 2nd-Sep-2010 07:42 pm (UTC)
This article doesn't give enough information about what the teacher's responsibilities are and whether she is fulfilling her requirements in teaching the prescribed curriculum or not, because if she isn't, that is a problem. The invocation of the concept of the "principle of secularism and neutrality" bothers me in this context: the Holocaust is an historical event, not a "religious" or "partisan" event. (This might trigger my rant on how I hate books about the Holocaust being shelved in "Judaica" in bookstores but that is really kind of off topic.)
iamashamed 2nd-Sep-2010 07:45 pm (UTC)
wow what the fuck
slurp 3rd-Sep-2010 10:19 am (UTC)
It sounds like it's not just the class she teaches, but the fact that she's the one in charge of organizing the trips and when students protested the trips funding being cut, the school suspected she encouraged them to do it. Which I don't think is a necessarily bad thing. I wish my teachers would have told students they had power to do things.
imnotbob 2nd-Sep-2010 07:50 pm (UTC)
How can anyone be expected to be "Neutral" about the Holocaust?
chaya 2nd-Sep-2010 10:13 pm (UTC)
I guess if you're privileged enough to have no connection or resemblance to any of the victims?
pennieblack 2nd-Sep-2010 07:54 pm (UTC)
I can't imagine being told to use more "neutral" language when referencing the Holocaust -- yes. The Holocaust. JFC, are we going to ban every word which come from religious roots? Because that sounds like a fucking idiotic thing to do.

You don't need to wrap children in cotton-wool. History is dark and grainy and awful, but it happened, and -- man. It's one thing to promote neutrality and a broader understanding of events. It's another to nitpick someone's use of a widely-accepted (one of the most widely-accepted?) terms for a far-reaching horror which has yet to pass from first-hand knowledge.
pennieblack 2nd-Sep-2010 08:47 pm (UTC)
French articles include quotes from the school official who originally took issue, and the official said that the problem was completely about transportation and had nothing to do with how Pederzoli taught history. 140~ students cut down to 80 for the annual trip, the students protesting, and Pederzoli accused of inciting them.

The report read to the AFP is more in line with this article: in different articles, the report is consistently mentioned as noting Shoah/Holocaust being used 14 times as opposed to the 2 uses of the more 'neutral'/legally warranted term genocide/massacre. Also about how Pederzoli broke neutrality/secularism and brainwashed-indoctrinated her students.

Sounds like the report was getting down and dirty to make the case that the Prof was out of line, and the school official is doing standard CYA moves. Still don't like it. :/
rex_dart 2nd-Sep-2010 07:59 pm (UTC)
...There is nowhere near enough actual information in this article for any of us to make any sort of real judgment.
haruhiko 2nd-Sep-2010 08:01 pm (UTC)
Basically.
juliet316 Icon says it all2nd-Sep-2010 07:59 pm (UTC)
thewhowhatwhats 2nd-Sep-2010 08:21 pm (UTC)
Wow
ladypolitik 2nd-Sep-2010 08:59 pm (UTC)
I am so, SO confused.

eta: Also, obligatory "LOL, France". Somehow, even with eventual further clarifications, I doubt I'll be the least bit surprised by the crux of this story.

Edited at 2010-09-03 02:53 am (UTC)
_sockmonk_ 2nd-Sep-2010 09:02 pm (UTC)
What the hell is going on with France lately?
cecilia_weasley 3rd-Sep-2010 07:46 am (UTC)
I don't even know!!! Ridiculous.
hitmewakeme 2nd-Sep-2010 09:11 pm (UTC)
Fuck this shit, the Holocaust was a Holocaust and that's the term we're going to use for it. As for this neutrality issue.... there's being impartial when you don't know the facts and there's having a stance when you do... fact: Jews were targetted and killed in huge numbers by the Nazi regime. That is wrong. That is despicable. That is disgusting. Idg how 'neutral' you can be on that issue when you know all the facts and how you can't denounce the Nazi regime for it... unless I'm misreading here
thelilyqueen 2nd-Sep-2010 09:31 pm (UTC)
No one's defending Nazi ideology. Other commenters have suggested that the issue is that it's a no-no in France to gloss over the other groups also targeted and killed by the Nazis (Catholics, Roma, those with disabilities, LGBT folks, etc.). So, the neutrality expected is more 'let's not act as though Jews were the only victims' than 'well, maybe the Nazis had a point...'
zombie_process 2nd-Sep-2010 09:14 pm (UTC)
I really don't know what to think of it.
alketaire 2nd-Sep-2010 09:26 pm (UTC)
Secular and neutral, eh? How's 'bout them niqabs?

And in ALSACE-LORRAINE??!!
beshwa 3rd-Sep-2010 12:30 am (UTC)
LMAO

I can't believe I laughed. Oh god I am a history nerd. What is my life?
tiger0range 2nd-Sep-2010 09:28 pm (UTC)
How the F can you cover the holocaust neutrally?

I thank goodness I had a teacher that made us really sit down and take stock on what happened and realize that it can happen again and again anywhere in the world including our own town.
mycroftholmes 3rd-Sep-2010 01:23 am (UTC)
The left can be just as ridiculous and oppressive as the right.
ladypolitik 3rd-Sep-2010 03:16 am (UTC)
I'm at a complete lost as to what any of this has to do with left politics; if I'm not mistaken, the present ruling party in France--and the one which advocates/enforces the kind of state secularism being implied in this story--is the UMP (protip: a right-wing party).

I also dont understand why you felt compelled to inject a partisan narrative in the story at all; it makes no reference to ideological/partisan politics to begin with, other than a passing mention of Luc Chatel, who is the education minister for, again, the ruling right-wing party in France.
secretivexhero 3rd-Sep-2010 02:10 am (UTC)
lol in nancy, im not surprised.

I hate this country sometimes.
aviv_b 3rd-Sep-2010 02:20 am (UTC)
Why am I not surprised. In a country where they are banning nijabs and deporting Roma, you could expect nothing less.
cecilia_weasley 3rd-Sep-2010 07:44 am (UTC)
YES OMG. France is beautiful, but wtf is the government doing?!
hallieface 3rd-Sep-2010 03:45 am (UTC)
IT WASN'T JUST JEWS WHO WERE KILLED, SERIOUSLY.
art_house_queen 3rd-Sep-2010 06:57 am (UTC)
THANK YOU. Goodness.
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