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The Student Incident at 'Schindler's List' Viewing

January 29, 1994

Without making any judgments about teachers with good intentions and certain Oakland students' apparent lack of sensitivity during the viewing of "Schindler's List" ("Did Cultures Clash Over 'Schindler's'?," Jan. 22), there are several questions that come to my mind:

What kind of readings, documentaries, guest speakers, discussions and other activities did the teachers plan before and after the viewing of the film? Why not use the study guide sent to more than 30,000 schools, as Amblin Entertainment spokesman Marvin Levy suggested? Was adequate time allowed for processing of people's thoughts and feelings after viewing the film? Did the teachers preview the film to aid student understanding?

Students must be taught not only the content of the Holocaust but what context the Holocaust experience has in their life today. Otherwise, the event becomes somewhat of a science-fiction horror story.

As a U.S. history teacher for more than 20 years and a social studies methods teacher for seven years, my experience tells me that there is no substitute for preparation and follow-up. My guess is that a number of students had little basic knowledge of the Holocaust before viewing, and I would suggest that a frank discussion of people's thoughts and feelings would be a better follow-up activity than ice skating.

My wife, a psychologist, says that laughter in this case could be a display of discomfort and anxiety. It is important to prepare and warn students about the content of each film and the importance of being sensitive and courteous to other film viewers.

JAMES BERGER

Dorsey High School

Los Angeles

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