A Project of The Annenberg Public Policy Center

Holocaust Curriculum Suspended in UK?


Q: Did the U.K. suspend its Holocaust curriculum because it offended Muslim students?

A: No, neither the United Kingdom nor the University of Kentucky has suspended teaching the Holocaust.

FULL QUESTION

Could you check out the following e-mail that is circulating? I am particularly interested in whether the UK actually has removed reference to the Holocaust from its school curriculum.

In Memorial

This week, the UK removed The Holocaust from its school curriculum because it 'offended' the Muslim population which claims it never occurred.

[EET ]

This is a frightening portent of the fear that is gripping the world and how easily each country is giving into it.

It is now more than 60 years after the Second World War in Europe ended.

This e-mail is being sent as a memorial chain, in memory of the:

six million Jews,
20 million Russians,
10 million Christians
and 1,900 Catholic priests
who were murdered, massacred, raped, burned, starved and humiliated while the German and Russia peoples looking the other way![sic]

Now, more than ever, with Iran, among others, claiming the Holocaust to be 'a myth,' it is imperative to make sure the world never forgets.

This e-mail is intended to reach 40 million people worldwide!

Be a link in the memorial chain and help distribute this around the world.

Don't just delete this. It will take a minute to pass this along![/EET]
 

FULL ANSWER

This particular bit of bunk (along with an even more ridiculous version that turns the U.K. into the University of Kentucky) has been in circulation for several months now. A simple Google search reveals the falsity of the rumor, yet the e-mail continues to be passed along by the overly credulous.

The suggestion that the U.K. had banned teaching the Holocaust began appearing after the publication of a report from the British Historical Association. That report, titled Teaching Emotive and Controversial History 3-19, noted that "a history department in a northern city recently avoided selecting the Holocaust as a topic for GCSE coursework for fear of confronting anti-Semitic sentiment and Holocaust denial from some Muslim pupils."

In the English educational system, a GCSE (or general certificate for secondary education) course is roughly the equivalent of an American high school course. But unlike in the U.S., English and Welsh students can opt for a number of different GSCE courses (many of which provide vocational training). Thus, only about a third of British children opt to take GCSE coursework in history. While GCSE courses are high school level, they function more like American college courses, with teachers free to choose the curriculum and students free to take or not take the classes. So the outcry spawned by the Historical Association report is based on a decision at a single school (out of 4,500 in the U.K.) to remove study of the Holocaust from an elective course.

According to the Holocaust Educational Trust, study of the Holocaust remains part of the compulsory national curriculum for all children in England. The Holocaust is not required in the national curricula of Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. But according to the BBC, this has not changed recently.

There is no real basis at all for asserting that the University of Kentucky has banned teaching the Holocaust. The rumor apparently began when someone failed to recognize that the U.K. is a country in Europe and thus altered "U.K." to "University of Kentucky." The university officially denied the rumor, pointing out that the Department of Judaic Studies offers History 323: The Holocaust. In fact, that course is being offered in the spring 2008 semester.

We continue to be disappointed by the persistence of chain e-mails like this one, particularly considering that it has already been debunked by Snopes, TruthorFiction and UrbanLegends. We suggest as a general rule that the more times something has been forwarded, the less likely it is to be true.

–Joe Miller

Sources

"Holocaust 'Ban' E-mail Confusion." BBC, 17 Apr. 2007.

The Historical Association. Teaching Emotive and Controversial History 3-19. London, UK: The Historical Association, 2007.

The Holocaust Educational Trust. About the Holocaust Educational Trust. April 2007.

The University of Kentucky. University Debunks Holocaust E-mail Rumor, 8 Nov. 2007.