This quarter seniors are reading The Sunflower, by Simon Wiesenthal. The book is about Simon, a Jewish man imprisoned in a concentration camp, who is taken one day to the bedside of a dying Nazi soldier who asks Simon for forgiveness. Faced with the choice between compassion and justice, silence and truth, Simon is challenged with the moral dilemma to forgive or not to forgive the Nazi soldier. As part of the unit, and to help connect with the character in the novel, students were placed in groups to compose modern dilemma scenarios along with discussion questions to present to class.
This unit promoted the IB Learner Profile attribute of being an “inquirer” since students generated their own discussion questions and focused on the concept of thinking independently rather than accepting information without question. While the class was reading The Sunflower, Alice Herz, the oldest known Holocaust survivor, died in London. This created an opportunity for the class to research Alice’s experiences living in a concentration camp and compare them with Simon’s experiences in the text. Many students asked to pursue this comparison in their research paper for the unit, rather than writing on the prompts originally provided.