Face with Man on one side and Monster on the other

The Beast Within: An Interdisciplinary UnitWebEnglishTeacher A+ Resource Award



This unit involves a study of the darker side of human nature as explored by the literature and history of 20th century man. The following topics are covered in:

* Social Studies:

The 9th grade US Government course calls for an examination of authoritarian government as compared with a democratic system. To achieve this goal, we examine the human rights abuses of such regimes as Nazi Germany, Iraq under Saddam Hussein, Cuba under Fidel Castro, and China under the Communist Party.

The Social Studies curriculum allows for an examination of the Holocaust as the epitome of evil that Man is capable of. In order to gain a full understanding of the impact of this event on the lives of individuals as well as on history, the 9th grade takes a trip to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.

This video provides an excellent summary of the Holocaust and the Days of Remembrance. A new window will open. 

This link will bring up student reaction to a visit to the Museum that was taken on December 7, 1995. Students were asked to describe something they saw or experienced that touched or changed them. The students also visited the White House and the chamber of the U.S. Senate before visiting the USHMM. Please examine their unedited comments and send your thoughts to georgecassutto@hotmail.com
Students of US Government and History should also be able to apply the lessons of the Holocaust to current events and examples of modern-day genocide, including the tragedy taking place in Bosnia at the present time.

A series of discussion questions and activities designed as a study guide for use before, during, and after the visit to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum has been posted as a resource  as a resource for traditional or online courses. Many of the questions have been developed from data found in Michael Berenbaum's book The World Must Know: The History of the Holocaust As Told By the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. It is hoped that this page can be a resource to teachers and students visiting the US Holocaust Memorial Museum.

Mr. Cassutto has developed a series of pages on the experiences of his parents, who survived the Holocaust. We hope you will take a minute to review these pages. Their story may be an inspiration to us living in the present day, and the pages within this link might also be used to give the history of the Holocaust a personal side and a human face.

The Cassutto Memorial Pages were the subject of a lesson plan entitled "The History of the Holocaust Through A Personal Perspective." Many of the activities of the Beast Within are included in this lesson plan and have been expanded. The lesson was published by the Microsoft Corporation as part of its Encarta Lesson Plan Collection (no longer in existence).

* English:

Various pieces of literature that illustrate the darker side of man's free will. Topics include genocide, segregation, discrimination, hate crimes, and war as an instrument of evil. 9th grade classes may study works such as

  • Lord of the Flies, (Thanks Hilve Firek for the suggestion. Be sure to check out her Holocaust Education page as well!)
  • The Invisible Man,
  • The Elephant Man,
  • Night,
  • Fahrenheit 451 and
  • The Diary of Anne Frank
as these works all illustrate the power of "the beast within" while shedding light on the good that can arise from situations created by evil.

The following writing options will help the student make sense of the student's experience at the Holocaust Museum or when dealing with other Holocaust resources. Each deserves serious reflection, planning, and effort on the part of the student. Make it a piece of writing you can be proud of.

Webmaster's note: Ms. Selby asks that you obtain her written permission via e-mail if you would like to use these questions as posted in your class. She encourages you to use them, but she would like to know that you are using her material as a resource. Please write to her if you care to reproduce these questions.

1) Select an artifact or photograph that had the greatest impact on you. List and describe everything you can think of about it relating to its hidden history. In other words, write a narrative telling your story as this artifact or photograph. Try to make this as authentic and historically accurate as you can understanding that your narrative will be a fictionalized account. This account will be in the first person. For example:" I am the cast-off shoe of Daniel..." (This should be a minimum of two double-spaced pages).

2) Write a narrative poem (1-2 pages, double spaced in length) which tells the story of one of the Holocaust survivors or victims. Use all the elements present in a narrative:

  • plot,
  • setting,
  • viewpoint,
  • theme.
Rhyme is optional, but attention should be paid to imagery and figures of speech.

3) Write an explanatory essay, modelling the sample given for the traditional essay in your grammar textbook. Explore a theme inpired by this unit. Examples could include lessons learned from Holocaust ordeals, from Holocaust vistim and survivors' courage, the individual in conflict with society, how to combat Man's inhumanity to Man in everyday life, etc. Make sure each essay has a focused thesis at the end of its introductory paragraph and the structure suggested.

Here is a list of discussion questions used by Ms. Selby in her execution of this unit.

* Science:

 The Science teacher, Ms. Hurley plans to discuss the following elements:

* Mathematics:

Ms. Cross, our Math teacher, plans to have students examine the following elements:

Students will develop line, bar, circle or pictographs, illustrating some statistical application of Holocaust data. possible applications include

In reaction to the data presented at the Holocaust Museum and in class, students may also be given the following assignment choices:

Please read the poetry of 9th grade North High students who has visited the Holocaust Memorial Museum.

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