Here's what the Education Department at Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center for Holocaust Studies (FSWC) has been up to over the last two weeks.
The last two weeks have been busy for the education team as they have been delivering virtual programs in elementary and secondary school classrooms in Ontario, Manitoba and Saskatchewan.
While we are having to respond to antisemitic and hateful incidents in schools way too frequently, we are also being invited into classrooms as a proactive approach to countering hate and intolerance. Teachers are reaching out to the FSWC education team every day to seek support and ensure that difficult conversations about the Holocaust, genocide, antisemitism and racism are presented in an impactful and meaningful way.
The continuing positive feedback on these programs reflects the effectiveness of the educational work we are doing. One teacher shared: "Honestly, you spoke so naturally and with passion. Given the seriousness of the content, your word choice was spot on and age-appropriate. The presentation was excellent and I've already received a few emails from staff with the same feedback. What a pleasure it was listening to you navigate the topic of hate and intolerance."
In addition to this positive feedback about delivery, we continue to hear stories about how students are interpreting the lessons and taking action. Another teacher sent feedback stating: "Thank you so much for yesterday – the kids and I learned so much and they had a great discussion afterwards. Two of my students have actually chosen Genocide as their speech topic after yesterday!"
As things open up and schools begin to invite us into their classrooms again, we will offer virtual sessions alongside in-person programming to continue to extend our reach across Canada.
The 2022 Speaker's Idol program continues to progress. Last week, the quarter-finalist round was completed, with 22 grades 6 to 12 students from Alberta, Ontario and Newfoundland advancing to the semi-finalist round, scheduled for Sunday, March 27.
This year, supplementing the Speaker's Idol program, we offered a special session on Holocaust education to all students who entered the competition. In addition to a brief history of the Holocaust, Michelle Glied-Goldstein presented the powerful testimony of her late father, Bill Glied, who was a Holocaust survivor. Students posed insightful questions, and several have since followed up with the FSWC Education Department to ask for book recommendations on the Holocaust.
The engine is running, the gas tank is full, and the programs are loaded and ready to go! Starting next week, the special Tour for Humanity education bus will return to action, visiting schools in both York Region and Toronto District School Boards. The FSWC education team is excited to get back on the road and meet students in person!
LEARN MORE ABOUT TOUR FOR HUMANITY