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A Critical Moment

LPM's award-winning documentary examining how the United States and Germany teach schoolchildren about the painful parts of their histories.

When it comes to teaching about race and history, American classrooms are at a crossroads. What can we learn from Germany’s post-war path?

How do you teach about a country’s sins?

Many American teachers and students say it’s time to learn about our country’s legacy of racism. But some conservatives are calling these lessons indoctrination. They’ve co-opted a new label for those discussions: critical race theory.

Now, Republican politicians in Kentucky and many other states are trying to reign in classroom conversations on race.

At least nine states have already banned teachers from bringing up certain topics around race. Another five have state-level action around this issue. Even more have legislation in the works, including Kentucky.

But the U.S. isn’t the only country with an unsettling history to deal with.

In Germany, students are required to learn about one of their nation’s darkest chapters — the Holocaust.

In WFPL’s "A Critical Moment," Arts and Culture Reporter Stephanie Wolf explores how the Holocaust is covered in German schools, and Education and Learning Reporter Jess Clark looks at how race is covered in Kentucky classrooms.

The result is an unflinching look at how two countries teach about their difficult histories, and why.

Listen to "A Critical Moment":


Some of these so-called “anti-critical race theory” bills attack a body of work from the New York Times called “The 1619 Project.” So we spoke to its creator, Nikole Hannah-Jones, for this documentary. Here's an excerpt:


Learn more:

Kentucky Legislation:

 Support for this story was provided, in part, by the Jewish Heritage Fund for Excellence.

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