In Friends School of Minnesota’s 7th and 8th grade humanities classes this year, we are focussing on the Quaker value of integrity.
Our guiding questions for the year are:
- How have societies changed by interaction with other societies?
- How do I keep my values when confronted by counter values? How do people decide when and how to take a stand?
The 7th and 8th humanities students have been studying the Holocaust through this lens of integrity. We’ve looked at many different pieces, including Nazi ideology behind the Holocaust, persecution of various groups, an in-depth timeline, survivor stories, and resistance. A couple of weeks ago, we had a guest speaker, Holocaust survivor Charles Fodor, who spoke about his experience as a seven-year old boy when the Nazis marched into Budapest. Read about Fodor’s visit to FSM: Holocaust Survivor Speaks to Humanities Classes
Part of our study of resistance focused on a whole community in France did during WWII. Students read about the collaboration between unoccupied France (Vichy France) and the Nazis in their persecution of the Jewish people. Students then watched the film Weapons of the Spirit and read firsthand accounts about the village of Le Chambon sur Lignon in the mountains of central France. Le Chambon was home to an underground network of non-violent resisters that sheltered and hid many Jewish refugees during the war.
One of our goals was to show students real examples of people who acted with integrity during the war. Last week, Nelly Trocmé Hewett visited Friends School of Minnesota to speak to our 7th and 8th grade. During World War II, Nelly was a young teenager growing up in Le Chambon. Her parents, Magda and Pastor Andre Trocmé, were two of the major movers in the rescue and hiding of thousands of Jewish families and children. Her talk with the students focused mostly on acts of integrity during the war. She told her family’s stories about disobeying the French government to shelter the persecuted and talked about people who took risks to do the right thing.
Our study of the Holocaust continues, and students have begun reading Elie Wiesel’s Night, an autobiographical account of what he experienced in concentration camps during the Holocaust. We are holding daily discussions of the book in class to give students the opportunity to talk about the book and ask questions in an environment they feel comfortable in. Integrity will continue to be the lens through which we ask students to look as we study the events of the Holocaust and the end of World War II.