more, and in doing so, empower the memory of the victims. Ms. Chang stated in 1998, “… denial and amnesia are considered to be part of the final stage of genocide. First, the victims are killed, and then the memory of killing itself is killed” (Siegel). In my senior social studies classes, this is not going to happen!
Iris Chang was not afraid to take a risk with what others thought; she was driven by a conviction to expose a horrible truth. Her objectives were clear; “I wrote [the story] out of a sense of rage. I didn’t really care if I made a cent from it. It was important to me that the world knew what happened in Nanking back in 1937” (The Australian, p. 2). As I learned of the tragedies and the horrors of war, and the true meaning of genocide as experienced by the Nanking victims, I started to develop the confidence needed to take risks like Chang did. After participating in the creation of Human Rights in the Asia Pacific 1931-1945: Social Responsibility And Global Citizenship I decided to propose a course for high school students on genocide that would use the Holocaust as a blueprint or starting point to engage students. I was careful however in my planning “not to attempt to show that one ethnic group’s suffering was worse than another’’ (Contemporary Authors, p. 2). Genocide does not appear in any specific curriculum (beyond a definition which is void of what victims endure), although elements of what genocide is are touched on in various high school courses. My motivation in creating the course was two-fold. First I wanted to learn more about these topics myself. If I was just scratching the surface of grand scale historic and contemporary examples of tragedy and injustice, my students would have a similarly superficial understanding. My second motivation was that I wanted to teach my students of such events in a way that surpassed the simplified, scaled down version found in a textbook. In 2003 I took a risk; I proposed a course that would study genocide. I presented Holocaust 12: A Blueprint for Modern Societal Tragedies to School District #23’s (Central Okanagan) board of trustees, administrators, and superintendents. No course of this kind, to my knowledge or to the knowledge of the board, had ever been taught at the public school level in our province. It was risky in terms of the impact it could have on students, and the public’s reaction, as well as the possibility of naysayers within and without the school to such a course. My biggest concern however was whether students would register for such a specific course and how I would develop curriculum for such a sensitive topic? Since its inception, the course has