Word search puzzles used at Colfax to teach Holocaust
Holocaust educationParent finds puzzles inappropriate

Word search puzzles used at Colfax to teach Holocaust

The word searches featured simple phrases, like “Jew,” “Nazi” and “Holocaust,” along with more specific ones, such as “slaughtered bystanders” and “Final Solution.”

Word search puzzles distributed at Colfax (Images provided by Lindsay Wein)
Word search puzzles distributed at Colfax (Images provided by Lindsay Wein)

At least one Jewish parent is upset over word searches featuring phrases such as “gas chambers” and “corpses exhumed” that a Pittsburgh Colfax middle school substitute teacher is using to educate students about the Holocaust.

Lindsay Wein said that her Colfax eighth-grader came home with the first word search distributed by a substitute English teacher about two weeks ago. Another followed last week.

Wein provided the two word searches for the Chronicle to review.

“I just thought it was odd they were giving them a word search — I felt a word search was very inappropriate material for teaching the Holocaust,” said Wein, a Squirrel Hill mother of four. “There’s tons of teaching resources online. I mean, we’re in Squirrel Hill, for God’s sake. … It struck me as really wrong.”

Wein said she was offended “as a parent and as a Jew.”

Colfax is not supposed to use word searches “for any part of the middle-school instructional practices, nor is the material a part of the school district’s curriculum or intervention program,” Pittsburgh Public Schools spokesperson Ebony Pugh told the Chronicle.

“The Pittsburgh Public Schools is committed to ensuring students access culturally responsive materials that validate and affirm their cultural and ethnic identities,” Pugh said. “The substitute teacher is receiving additional school-based and district-level support related to culturally responsive teaching following the incident.”

Wein isn’t fully satisfied.

“This is bigger than just me,” she told the Chronicle. “This is a whole grade — I don’t even know if this is teaching.” PJC

Justin Vellucci is a freelance writer living in Pittsburgh.

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