A fascinating article in the Washington Times investigates a risky teaching tactic employed in high schools and colleges across the country.
Educators are inviting representatives of hate groups – neo Nazis, KKK, Westboro Baptist Church, etc. – to share their hateful ideologies with students.
School officials say the point of such activities is for students to witness first hand the extreme stances these groups take, and to avoid them.
They assert that no student has ever been converted as a result of these speaking engagements.
“The kids see through their messages,” said David Strausbaugh, who along with Scott DiMauro, teaches the Worthington Kilbourne class. “They know. There’s nobody — nobody — who leaves and says, ‘Boy, we’ve got to join these people.’ That’s why we can bring them in, because we know the kids are going to see them for who they are.”
The Ohio school is not alone. Across the country, other schools also are organizing classes to give students a taste of the message purveyed by hate groups. At Portland State University in Oregon, sociology professor Randy Blazak said he brings in neo-Nazis to talk with his students about the role of extremism in society.
“It’s a good idea to know what’s out there,” Mr. Blazak said. “They’re not monsters. They’re human beings, wrestling with their own issues.
Critics of these programs would argue that inviting hate groups to speak legitimizes their views, and puts minority students in a uncomfortable, painful situation.
Proponents say these activities teach young people how to think critically, provide a deeper understanding of the First Amendment, and inspire them to stand up for what’s right.
Is it appropriate to bring hate groups into schools?
Are there other ways to teach about extremism without subjecting students to a face-to-face encounter?
Sound off below!