Social Education 55(6) pps. 400-404
©1991 National Council for the Social Studies
The Other Victims: First-Person Stories of Non-Jews Persecuted by the Nazis, by Ina R. Friedman. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1990. 176 pp. $14.95 hardcover. Reviewed by Samuel Totten.
Over the past decade or so, educators at various levels have expressed an increasing interest in teaching about both human rights and the deprivation of those rights-including genocide and, especially, the Holocaust. One indication of this interest is the proliferation of publications by various state educational departments, such as California's Model Curriculum for Human Rights and Genocide, New York's Teaching about the Holocaust and Genocide, Connecticut's Human Rights: The Struggle for Freedom, Dignity and Equality, and Virginia's Teaching the Past Describes Today...Tomorrow, Human Rights Education-Focus: The Holocaust.
Although the victimization of 6 million Jews at the hands of the Nazis is well known, few people are aware that close to 6 million non-Jews were starved or worked to death during the same period. Among those "other" victims were Gypsies, the handicapped, Poles, homosexuals, and ideological opponents such as Jehovah's Witnesses. The stories of these individuals are rarely told.
Ina R. Friedman, author of Escape or Die: True Stories of Young People Who Survived the Holocaust, aims to correct this oversight in The Other Victims by affording some of these people a forum in which to tell their stories.
One such individual, Pastor Christian Reger, tells of how, enamored of Hitler, he joined the Brown Shirts. He quickly became disillusioned with the Nazi movement, however, and began speaking out against the injustices he witnessed, only to end up in Dachau. Elizabeth Kusserow relates how her family, all Jehovah's Witnesses, maintained their faith despite the terrible brutality they experienced. Franziska Schwartz recounts the story of how she was sterilized simply because she was deaf.
None of the accounts dwell on physical torture, brutality, or butchery. Instead, and this makes them particularly useful when teaching younger children, they focus on feelings of anxiety, compassion, horror at the sense of injustice, and solicitude for unfortunate others. Unlike many films and books on the horrors of the Holocaust, these stories should not assault the tender sensibilities of the young.
Many of the accounts focus on individuals in their teens or early twenties who refused to deviate from their religious beliefs or morals despite immense pressure to do so. Several of these individuals and their immediate family members or friends risked their lives either by refusing to acquiesce to the insidious Nazi philosophy or by offering assistance to those in need. Wolfgang Behl, a talented teenage artist, refused to be told what he could and could not create. He also offered assistance to Jewish friends. Grete Hamacher's father helped those in danger escape the Nazis. Andrei Laska worked with the Czech resistance movement, Zbigniew Zawadzki with the Polish Underground, and Andre Gerard with the French resistance. These accounts are uplifting and speak to the personal benefits of rejecting a herd mentality.
Although some of Friedman's introductions are extremely informative and will probably enlighten the uninitiated reader, others are weakened by simplistic historical analysis and gross generalizations. Another (minor) irritation with the introductions is that the editor tends to use, sometimes verbatim, phrases from the accounts themselves. Such redundancy does not add to the account, and the space might have been more productively used to introduce additional information.
The book would also benefit from the addition of maps making clear for the young reader where events took place. A short glossary also would have been useful since many students might not be familiar with words such as assimilated, Gestapo, Crystal Night, Communist, and Socialist. Finally, a chronological chart of key events could have provided the reader with a rough but useful sense of the period.
Although this volume is intended for readers in grades 5 through 9, it would be appropriate for students right through grade 12. When all is said and done, both students and teachers will benefit from this valuable book. It contains information difficult to find elsewhere, and compels the reader to reflect on what it means to be a socially responsible citizen-even in the darkest of times.
College of Education
University of Arkansas
On the Law of Nations, by Daniel Patrick Moynihan. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1990. 177 pp., plus notes. $22.50 hardcover. Reviewed by Howard N. Meyer.
Foreign policy decisions-especially those involving the use of force by the United States-have been made and are being made with little or no attention to the requirements of the rules of international law, so argues U.S. Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan. The Democratic senator from New York asserts this is cause for alarm and profound regret. The former Harvard professor of government, ex-Nixon aide, and ambassador to India and the United Nations, is well qualified to write this book, which he calls "a survey of American attitudes toward international law from the eighteenth century to the verge of the twenty-first."
Dominated by the idiosyncratic style of the senior senator from New York, brimming with his personality, the book is more a specialized and limited-range memoir than a presentation of his subject. Educational materials in the field of international relations that are informative as to their most neglected branch, the legal cement that joins the nations in community, are so badly needed that one wishes it were possible to recommend Senator Moynihan's commentary with greater enthusiasm. He calls attention, by relevant citation, to Professor Louis Henkin's valuable (and quite accessible to readers of this periodical) essay in a 1989 symposium, "Right v. Might," published by the Council on Foreign Relations. That essay and book are unreservedly recommended.
The "law of nations" was an earlier, now nearly archaic, designation for what today we call "international law." As one of his two epigraphs illustrates, it was installed in the 1787 Constitution's Article I, Section 8, as a subject concerning which Congress was empowered to "define and punish." The other epigraph, also a reference to the Constitution and also deserving of his repeated return, is the identification of "Treaties [as] the supreme Law of the Land" (Art. VI).
The book is divided into seven sections or chapters following the introduction, which serves as an overture presenting the principal themes of the book, peppered like the rest of the work with personal reminiscence. The chapters are in rough historical sequence, a promising form of presentation, save that they are as uneven in content as they are in length.
In the first chapter, "Peace," Moynihan attempts to cover a wide range of topics, from the Founding Fathers' intentions to the eve of World War I, all in nine pages. One welcomes an opening reference to James Kent's great 1826 treatise, his four-volume Commentaries, pointedly described by the senator as "presenting the law of nations as the first principle of the American legal system....[T]hat such law was binding was self-evident, as the founders might say" (15).
Also crammed into these first few pages are fleeting references to the origins of international law, in Professor Brierly's subtitle as quoted, a "Law of Peace." We are reminded of the Supreme Court's dictum that "International law is part of our law" (19). That was in 1900 which, while he omits complications and context, the senator calls "a good year for international law" (21). Mentioned too is the epically important Alabama claims arbitration, and in a single fifteen-line paragraph the two Hague conferences (1899 and 1907) where U.S. delegates led-their initiative is not mentioned-in formulating plans for a judicial international court.
The next three chapters, "War," "Wilson," and "Roosevelt," take us from the eve of World War I to the creation of a global international organization at the end of World War II. Among their principal themes are the claims of the Wilsonians that defense of international law and human rights was the casus belli for our entry into the First World War (annotated with Moynihan's jab at Wilson's Caribbean interventions, "Wilson was fiercely anti-imperialist where others were concerned" ), and the concept, not too off-base now, that "one of the defining contests of the Twentieth Century War [was] between the world visions of V.I. Lenin and Woodrow Wilson" (33).
Wilson's failure (peculiar, after a decent record in winning liberal domestic legislation) to apprehend what it took to deal with the Senate-particularly as led by Henry Cabot Lodge-is summed up in the quip that the treaty offering us the League of Nations "was defeated before it was negotiated" (46). Franklin D. Roosevelt's skill, in contrast, gave us not only the United Nations, but legislation making possible the use of U.S. troops to enforce international law without the Constitutionally required congressional declaration if authorized and requested by the UN Security Council.
A useful prelude to the passages on the Roosevelt phase is the International Labor Office story. The ILO was the one element of the Versailles system that the United States worked with from the start, that gave described input to the New Deal program, and that FDR was able (with Labor Secretary Frances Perkins's able leadership) to join officially, though his Senate rejected the League System's Permanent Court of International Justice.
In contrast with the nine-page opening chapter, and a twenty-page average thereafter, the concluding chapter, "A Normless Normalcy" (one might say part of which he was, all of which he saw), covers a detailed sixty pages of events commencing in 1981, when our nation's long dwindling respect for international law seemed to vanish. The inevitable consequence of the assault on Nicaragua was a "chain of events, the Iran-Contra affair," that finally compelled multiple "investigations into what had gone wrong." The author continues:
The object of this final chapter is to argue that one of the things that had gone wrong was that men and women responsible for national security affairs were either ignorant or contemptuous of international law, including treaties that are explicitly under the Constitution "the supreme Law of the Land." (121)
As proof of his assertion that "the Congress as much or more than the president...needs to raise its consciousness of international law as our law" (Moynihan's emphasis, 177), one can turn back to the introduction: "In 690 pages of text [of the joint Senate/House Report] the term international law does not once appear" (Moynihan's emphasis, 6). We now see in print from one senator: "The plain fact is that the President did invite and almost certainly did deserve impeachment" (143).
Believers in international law and order can welcome gratefully such observations as: "If international law exists, it exists independently of whether any one state agrees with or abides by it" (133), and, evoking Brandeis, "for a nation of laws, the obligation of compliance extends to the law of nations. If treaties don't matter, men easily enough come to think that statutes don't matter either" (148). All stimulating and worth saying, but lacking the in-depth value of such out-of-print works as Arthur Larson's When Nations Disagree (1961).
Howard N. Meyer
New York, New York
Working Class Without Work: High School Students in a De-Industrializing Economy, by Lois Weis. New York and London: Routledge, 1990. 240 pp. $42.50 hardcover; $13.95 paper. Reviewed by Norman Lederer.
White, blue-collar, male high school graduates of thirty years ago or so had options, even if most of them did not realize it at the time. There was, of course, the universal military draft, which was difficult if not impossible to avoid, unless the student sought refuge in the National Guard or the reserves. The draft, however, was not necessarily a dead end. To male children of blue-collar workers, a career in the military offered a way out of factory work: once discharged from the military, they might enter the world of work as factory hands, store clerks, or, if well connected, as apprentices in a unionized skilled trade.
Today, as this outstanding study of blue-collar students in a dying factory town illuminates, the occupational picture for white, male, blue-collar workers, whether high school dropouts or graduates, is bleak. The steel mills and fabricating shops that provided economic sustenance for good, bad, and indifferent workers have either closed entirely or have been so revamped in structure that they now offer low wages, few benefits, and no job security. Service industries provide jobs, but offer only a derisory wage and conditions that sap and undermine the integrity of the worker. Even the military is no longer a certain haven, given the increased competition for slots in the armed forces between white men, minorities, and women, the military's budgetary restraints, and the end of the cold war. It is one of the ironies of the contemporary vocational picture that the field of teaching, once regarded with contempt by white, blue-collar, high school graduates, is now one of the few remaining relatively stable occupational categories open to this group on a somewhat unrestricted basis.
Lois Weis, professor of sociology and associate dean of the faculty at SUNY-Buffalo, provides ethnographic insight, overlaid by neo-Marxist theory, in her description and analysis of the identity formation process of white, working-class youth in a deindustrialized environment. The high school she uses as her laboratory is located in a decaying urban area located near a once mighty, though now derelict, steel mill. The mill once provided excellent wages and benefits for the area's population; today it is closed down. Nothing has replaced the mill as a source of economic well-being in the community.
The revised order of things in the fictitious city of "Freeway" has generated a different consciousness than in past years among the students at Freeway High School. Young white men, once contemptuous of education and always eager to disrupt proceedings to alleviate their sense of acute boredom, now tolerate the banalities of the educational process because they need a high school diploma or a college degree to apply for all but the least remunerative jobs. They follow instructions to the letter and adhere closely to the form of instruction while completely ignoring the content of whatever subject they are studying.
The young, white, blue-collar women at Freeway High also exhibit an altered consciousness in relationship to that displayed by their forebears. To these women, uncertain of their future as are their male peers, marriage and family are not the logical certainties they were for the majority of white, blue-collar, young women thirty years ago. Unlike their male counterparts, who seem to retain a rather rose-colored view of marriage, these young women look for work that will precede or even supplant marriage. They do not view marital bliss as the rule-they appear to dread the burden of children at a time when they are least prepared to settle down. They fear, and even view as relatively certain, the prospect of divorce as a consequence of most formal relationships.
The teachers, like the students, go through the motions of education, viewing with a cynical eye the entreaties and admonitions emanating from the offices of the administrators. The white, mostly home-grown faculty consider themselves lucky to have pulled the appropriate political strings to get out of the mill in time to secure their relatively well-paying, nontaxing positions in their hometown environment.
Weis's study provides remarkable insight into the consciousness of contemporary, white, blue-collar workers. Her book should be required reading for those seeking reasons for the growing alienation of the white, blue-collar culture in the United States.
Dean, General and
Stevens State School of Technology
Multicultural Teaching, a Handbook of Activities, Information, and Resources, by Pamela L. Tiedt and Iris M. Tiedt. 3d ed. Needham Heights, Mass.: Allyn and Bacon, 1990. 418 pp. $30 paper. Reviewed by Alan Singer.
I approach Multicultural Teaching, a Handbook of Activities, Information, and Resources by Tiedt and Tiedt as a strong advocate of multicultural education with fifteen years of secondary school classroom experience. I find the classroom materials presented in this book interesting, informative, well organized, and extremely useful. Although they are primarily for use in elementary school classrooms, they are easily adaptable to any academic level.
The authors argue that "multicultural education is integral to teaching and learning at all levels" and that it is "fundamental to the education of all children, not only children from minority backgrounds" (xi). The authors view multicultural education as crucial for promoting "world harmony and peaceful coexistence in this global village" (xi). They contend that multicultural education allows teachers to
step down from the podium to engage in the discovery process with our students. Our goal, then, is to empower students to think, to perform as active learners, as they construct their own meaning from the world around them. (xii)
The various chapters focus on developing student self-esteem, creating a sense of community in the classroom, expanding students' understanding of the world around them, integrating the multicultural approach across the curriculum, and developing a multicultural calendar of events that can be used to stimulate student interest and involvement in learning.
Reviews of the earlier editions of Multicultural Teaching were highly complimentary, describing the book as "provocative" and "satisfying" and praising its comprehensive list of multicultural teaching resources. As a third edition, however, this book should be held to a higher standard. There has been more than a decade of heated discussion on the value and forms of multicultural education since the book first appeared. For example, in the United States there is no general agreement today about what a multicultural curriculum should include or how it should be implemented. I believe the authors have an obligation to directly address this continuing debate.
A major problem with the book is that the authors present controversial ideas as if teachers and scholars had already arrived at consensus on the issues. Tiedt and Tiedt assert that "this country is not perceived today as a melting pot but rather a tossed salad, with various groups contributing to the national culture while maintaining their distinct identity" (7). This statement sets forth as a universally accepted absolute an issue that, in fact, is subject to considerable debate. Tiedt and Tiedt might have surveyed conflicting viewpoints so that readers could draw their own conclusions.
In Multicultural Teaching there are a number of other areas where controversies are skirted and the authors offer their own point of view as established fact. "Black English" is presented as a dialect spoken by black Americans rather than as a construct that is subject to debate. Bilingual education is supported as integral to multiculturalism, but current disagreements about forms of bilingual education are not discussed. The authors assert that Americans cannot ignore problems faced by people in other parts of the world. But why not? This statement is not clearly explained.
In another controversial assertion, the authors contend that students must first understand their individual culture before they can understand the cultures of other people. Tiedt and Tiedt even introduce an idea they call "I-Culture," which they identify as the unique culture of a particular individual. I find two problems with this formulation. First, although individuals do experience culture differently, to identify each individual's experience as a distinct culture negates the social meaning of the term. Second, most students assume their own cultures and do not examine them consciously until they begin to explore the ways that other people live. In some ways, Tiedt and Tiedt's discussion of culture represents the antithesis of a multicultural approach to teaching social studies.
The unsupported assertions continue when Tiedt and Tiedt discuss effective teaching. I strongly endorse their belief that good education requires that teachers create a climate of respect in their classrooms. But it is not clear that a climate of respect requires using a multicultural curriculum. I think it does, but they do not demonstrate it.
A minor organizational problem also detracts from Multicultural Teaching's effectiveness. Because the book discusses some of the same groups of people in different contexts in different chapters, background information that could be useful for teachers tends to be scattered and diffuse. This problem could be remedied by adding separate brief histories of the different groups as they are introduced.
There are two pressing problems in multicultural education today. One problem is collecting and organizing information for teachers, which Tiedt and Tiedt do well. The other problem is defining multicultural education's role in the curriculum. In addressing this issue, I find Multicultural Teaching a disappointment.
School of Education
Hempstead, New York
Choice of Schools in Six Nations, by Charles L. Glenn. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Education, December 1989. 238 pp. $7.50 paper. Reviewed by Gary DeCoker.
In Choice of School in Six Nations, Charles Glenn, of the Massachusetts Department of Education, explores the issue of choice in the education systems of six Western democracies-France, Netherlands, Belgium, Britain, Canada, and West Germany-chosen from his more extensive review of twenty-five national education systems. Each system is discussed in a separate chapter that presents a brief historical overview and a more detailed explanation of the contemporary debate over choice in each country.
The book's introduction, by Secretary of Education Lauro F. Cavazos, sets forth the Department of Education's position on the book's topic: "It is my belief that the cornerstone for education reform in this country lies with the policy of school choice" (iii). Cavazos concludes his two-page essay with a quotation from President Bush advocating choice as a means to improve the quality of education in the United States. In the book's foreword, Christopher T. Cross, Assistant Secretary in the Office of Educational Research and Improvement, also supports choice and states that the issue of choice extends beyond the public school system. "In Dr. Glenn's report, we see that parental choices motivated by religious conviction are routinely accommodated in other Western democracies" (x).
Glenn is forthcoming about the scope of his project: "This survey is not...a study in comparative education, nor am I qualified to write such a study" (xi). Further, it "is not an academic exercise; it was prepared with American educators and policymakers in mind" (213). He reveals his bias toward school choice extended to the private sector, which includes religious schools, but at the same time, succeeds in presenting his research objectively, allowing the reader "to draw conclusions from the experience of other nations that may differ from [his]" (213).
When I realized that the primary focus of the book was to advocate publicly supported religious schooling, I became somewhat skeptical. My own support of choice only extends to options within the public educational system. To Glenn's credit and, perhaps, his disappointment, however, my reading of the book further convinced me of the need to keep public funds and private schools separate.
Using descriptions of the six countries and his experience working with equity and urban education programs in Massachusetts, he argues that parents want choice and are willing to respond to complex tradeoffs, that parental choice improves educational quality, and that choice benefits the "disadvantaged" (213-220).
Given the shifting mood in the United States toward increasing choice within public school systems, this book would offer more to United States educators and policymakers if the author had framed the debate in a way that did not focus almost entirely on religious schools.
In the concluding chapter, "Personal Reflections," Glenn sets out nine responses to the question, What can we learn? Two of these nine responses involve dilemmas that prevent the widespread support of choice in the United States. Number six: "A 'free market' in education has negative effects on equity, but these can be minimized through appropriate incentives and controls." Number seven: "Various strategies can be used to encourage choice to promote integration, while controlling choice that promotes segregation." That Glenn is unable to offer resolutions to the conflicts around equity and diversity points to the limits of the study of other systems as a guide to educational practice in the United States. In the end, many of the questions that concern education in the Unites States must be resolved in the context of United States culture and history.
As a proponent and practitioner of comparative education, I support Dr. Glenn in his attempt to illuminate the issue of choice through a comparative study, and I respect his care in not being overly prescriptive in the solutions he draws from his study. I also find the bibliographies and current information on the educational systems in the six countries especially useful.
Ohio Wesleyan University
Politics of Education: Essays from Radical Teacher, edited by Susan Gushee O'Malley, Robert C. Rosen, and Leonard Vogt. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1990. 357 pp. $16.95 paper; $49.50 hardcover. Reviewed by Sue Hammons-Bryner.
For fifteen years, Radical Teacher, a bimonthly journal, has published articles written from various feminist and socialist perspectives. The editors define a "radical teacher" as "one who provides a student- rather than teacher-centered classroom; nonauthoritarian" (339). Selected from past issues over the last fifteen years, this collection of thirty pieces is an ideal introduction for one who has not discovered the journal or who has only recently encountered it.
This book of lively, readable articles addresses significant themes and issues in education from 1975 to the present, including women's studies, Nazi culture, film usage, instruction in writing skills, graduate school survival skills, the basics' movement, elementary education, part-time teaching, and sex education. Moreover, the information on these diverse topics is timely, opportune, and intriguing.
Because the articles discuss current controversies in education, these essays are useful even for educators who do not consider themselves "radical." For instance, those with an interest in the present conservative restoration will probably enjoy the insightful article by Stan Karp on standardized testing which provides the perspective of a classroom teacher. In a section on what is typically portrayed as the problem of lowering standards, Karp depicts the issue as an offhand effort to address the increasing breach between students' level of preparation and historical assumptions of secondary school curricula. According to Karp, to overlook this gap would have been a recipe for continued failure, not a formula for maintaining "high achievement" (259).
The authors recognize that teachers, whether consciously or not, take positions in society's cultural politics. As Michael Apple remarks in the foreword to the book, "Education is inherently an ethical and political act" (ix). To that end, several articles suggest how to incorporate a radical perspective into the various subjects taught and into the classroom environment generally. For example, Patty Lee Parmalee, reviewing the organization of her course around the concept of submissiveness in "Teaching Nazi Culture," discusses how to avoid what she calls the "resentful inner emigration" of uninvolved students, how to raise questions in students' minds early in the term, and how to teach students to read difficult but worthwhile material (71). Because most of the authors resist the artificial lines drawn between the disciplines, this book is useful for all history and social science teachers.
All too often what schools teach is separate from what happens in "reaquot; life; the authors of this collection want knowledge not only to relate to the experiences of the learner but also to make a difference in people's lives. Thus, most of the suggestions aim to improve teaching, to make learning more interesting, humane, and empowering; they are not intended as a blueprint for left-wing indoctrination.
Although most of the articles are written by those in higher education, the book contains ideas applicable for middle school through college levels. The articles by secondary and college teachers especially could apply to both of these levels.
In addition, the articles in this book maintain a balance between practical teaching ideas and overall perspective for change. They offer techniques to increase student involvement and motivation, clear-cut lesson plans, syllabus concepts, course assignments, and discussions of problems. As the introduction notes, "A number [of the articles] consist simply of a description and analysis of a course taught" (3). Readers will get dozens of teaching recommendations and have their gray cells stimulated by these thought-provoking articles.
The organization of the book also reflects its practical orientation. Unlike many collections of articles, this one contains an index. In addition, nearly all of the articles contain useful reference sections. Throughout, the focus of the book is on pedagogy, content, and the relationship between the two. The articles are grouped into categories according to what we teach, how we teach, and where we work.
These selections are useful reading for educators today. They contain fresh perspectives on abiding problems in education. Because we rarely solve, but must always cope with these problems, past successes, failures, and insights are always helpful in seeking new management strategies. Instructors of all stripes will find Politics of Education a provocative addition to their professional libraries.
Abraham Baldwin College