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Education Students Discuss Ways to Combat Classroom Bullying
With N.J. Holocaust Commission Director


10/19/11


West Windsor, N.J. - Approximately 40 MCCC Education students recently engaged in a lively discourse with Dr. Paul Winkler, executive director of the New Jersey Commission on Holocaust Education (NJCHE). Meeting in the Holocaust Genocide Resource Center located on the MCCC campus, Dr. Winkler discussed approaches to eliminating intolerance and bullying in the classroom, using children's literature as a key tool.

Dr. Winkler was invited to campus by Assistant Professor of Education Elizabeth DeGiorgio and was joined by MCCC Professor EmeritaVera Goodkin, a Holocaust survivor.

Dr. Winkler noted that some books work specifically to foster a climate of tolerance in the classroom. Children's books such as Dr. Seuss' "The Sneetches and Other Stories" and "Sirius, The Hero Dog of 9-11" by Hank Fellows are particularly good for younger readers.

"Today, many children are bullied; many feel unsafe," Winkler, a former teacher and school administrator, said. "We are one of the most diverse states in the country, but we're also high in the number of hate crimes. Teachers need to assume responsibility for creating a community of acceptance in the classroom. It's important for children to be taught how to respect and appreciate each other's differences."

Using 9-11 as an example, Winkler noted that traumatic or controversial experiences can serve as "teachable moments" in the classroom. The NJCHE has played a major role in developing a new, comprehensive K-12 curriculum for teaching children about the events and issues surrounding the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

Dr. Winkler points out "teachable moments" in Dr. Seuss' "Sneetches."
From left, student Ramona Belfiore, Dr. Paul Winkler, executive director of the New Jersey Commission on Holocaust Education, Professor Emerita Vera Goodkin and student Danielle Sutton following the presentation.

"These and other emotionally-charged subjects are a challenge to teach," Winkler observed. "Teachers' words are so important. When you say something, children really do hear it. You must be sensitive to how words affect people. Never blame all for the actions of a few."

For more information on the NJCHE, see here. More on the Holocaust Genocide Resource Center on Mercer's West Windsor Campus is available here.

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