Students were given three “credible” sources — one a Holocaust denial site — and no opportunity to search for more information. They wrote their essays in class. Although they’d read Anne Frank’s Diary, some believed a handout that claimed it was a forgery.
Rialto Unified School District administrators, besieged by criticism after the assignment became public in May claimed at the time that none of the students questioned or denied the Holocaust, reports the Sun. A look at the essays shows that’s not true.
“I believe the event was fake, according to source 2 the event was exhaggerated,” one student wrote. (Students’ and teachers’ original spelling and grammar are retained throughout this story.) “I felt that was strong enogh evidence to persuade me the event was a hoax.”
In some cases, students earned high marks and praise for arguing the Holocaust never occurred, with teachers praising their well-reasoned arguments:
“you did well using the evidence to support your claim,” the above student’s teacher wrote on his assignment.
The student received a grade of 23 points out of 30, with points marked off for not addressing counterclaims, capitalization and punctuation errors.
The assignment was supposed to teach “critical thinking.”
“According to Fred A. Leuchter (leading specialist on the design and fabrication of execution equipment) there is no significant cyanide traces in any of the alleged gas chambers,” one student wrote. “So any open minded person can easily be persuaded to believe that the gassings were a Hoax.”
Leuchter has admitted he’s not an engineer and has no formal training in toxicology, chemistry or biology. He’s not strong on history either.
Without access to computers, students couldn’t check the “evidence” in the handouts, writes Scott Shackford on Reason‘s Hit&Run blog.