The idea for this unit came from a study conducted by the State of Connecticut and their findings concerning the lack of genocide education taking place within schools. The survey showed that a large percentage of students graduating from high schools did not learn anything about the Holocaust or genocide. As a result of these startling findings, there has been a push within the education system in Connecticut to ensure that students are being taught about genocides at some point within the curriculum. This effort to ensure that students gain an understanding of the atrocities that have taken place throughout history is a worthwhile endeavor that should be met with unwavering support. However, when teachers want to focus on a specific genocide, the Holocaust is always the particular event that teachers seem to choose as a starting point. The events and crimes against humanity that took place during the Holocaust were indeed exceptional. However, they were not unprecedented. Well before the genocides in Nazi Germany, there were various other genocides that took place across the globe which leads to the question: how can we broaden our students understanding about these histories of genocide that took place across the globe in the early nineteenth century? It is this exact question that led me to develop this unit.
My curriculum will focus on examining early genocides of the twentieth century using maps as a way not only to deliver content to the students, but also to stimulate students to think about the content on a deeper level by developing various maps. It is the hope that these various map activities will allow for students to make a more significant connection to the topic in the process.