Last week, this video popped up in my Facebook newsfeed, showing college kids being asked questions about the Holocaust…and being unable to answer them.
Now I don’t expect people to be experts on the subject matter—I’m certainly not one myself—but some of these kids couldn’t even answer name which country Adolf Hitler led during WWII. Another student thought that WWII was waged 300 years ago!
This is a critical gap in our education system. In past blogs I’ve explored how ignorance and indifference fueled the Holocaust grow from one extremist party to a world war, and the danger lurks not just in the past, but in the present. When we hide ignorance and hate, or ignore its potency, we give it room to grow untended. We cannot prevent the Holocaust in 2013, but we can use the knowledge gained from the experience to combat genocide today.
The video makes an excellent point that these students are not to blame for their ignorance, but their lack of education. As a teacher’s daughter, I know just how that time is almost as tight as money in public schools. But I also know that the responsibility of education does not fall solely on the shoulders of the teachers themselves, but on each and every member of the community.
This particularly applies to the arts. I’m sure we’ve all heard about arts funding being the first to go in budget cuts, and I’ve heard many debate about the usefulness about the arts and humanities at all. Shouldn’t we have more doctors, more engineers, more teachers!
The answer is yes, of course! But we also have a vital need for those who can see the whole story, and tell it to the engineers, the doctors, the teachers, the lawyers. Armed with that information, they can do their work that much better. But how can a doctor treat a wound they don’t know about?
This is why I Have Lived a Thousand Years and other educational projects from outside of schools are so vital. We can provide vital support to our struggling schools and give direction to the students of tomorrow, whether they want to be dancer or a doctor.
It doesn’t take much to made a difference. A 90 minute show can be the introduction of a new generation to a brighter future.