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“We need learners more than we need teachers .” - Will Richardson # nhec. Participate on Twitter. Survivor Testimony at the Crossroads of Media, Practice, and Purpose . Corey Harbaugh English teacher, Gobles MS/HS (Michigan)

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“We need learners more than we need teachers.”- Will Richardson


Participate on Twitter

survivor testimony at the crossroads of media practice and purpose

Survivor Testimony at the Crossroads of Media, Practice, and Purpose 

Corey Harbaugh

English teacher, Gobles MS/HS (Michigan)

USHMM Teacher Fellow; USC Shoah Foundation Master Teacher; Holocaust Educator Network Fellow, 2009; Director, MI Summer Seminar on Holocaust Education

Phip Ross

English faculty, Southeast Community College

Ed.D. University of Nebraska, Lincoln, (Dec. 2013)

Holocaust Educator Network Fellow, 2009

who we are today
Who we are today?

Friends and professional collaborators for twenty years, we’ve worked on many projects together, most of which have included the creation, collection, and/or publication of story.

survivor testimony
Survivor testimony

The formative center of Holocaust education

  • explore digital resources, guidelines, best practices, and ideas for using videotaped testimony in the classroom.
  • Consider both the use of testimony as a primary documentation of the Holocaust, and also the use of testimony as humanizing personal narrative for both social studies and E/LA classrooms.

A pedagogical framework: Holocaust Studies

“[l]iteracy is the ability to express oneself in an effective way through the text of the moment, the prevailing mode of expression in a particular society. Literacy follows language. To be literate . . is to be conversant in the dominant expressive language and form of the age.

-- Stephen ApkonThe Age of the Image: Redefining Literacy in a World of Screens (2013)

andrea lunsford adds
Andrea Lunsford adds:
  • In today’s literacy, reading, writing, speaking, and listening are increasingly blurred
  • Acts of literacy are deeply social and collaborative: to communicate, as Apkon notes, means to commune
  • Literacy involves consuming and producing, receiving and creating
  • Storytelling is the universal literacy—in words, images, moving pictures, and sounds.
a pedagogical framework holocaust studies
A pedagogical framework:Holocaust Studies
  • Personal story: activating a lens
  • Story: Constructing Story
    • Jessie’s Story: A Rock Story
    • Digital Storytelling

Story as Co-Creative Action

Change is difficult & good teachers often do not teach well to CLD students

To understand literary imagination as acquiring awareness by way of walking in another’s shoes and entering the world of the other, one becomes “an intelligent reader of that person’s story” (Naussbaum, p. 10-11).

As well as enabling one to “cross the empty spaces between ourselves and those we have called ‘other’ (Green, 1995, p. 3).


“. . . the miniature version of the self that can be seen by leaning in to see one’s own reflection in the eye of an Other. Decentering is like this. I try to shift the focus of the aperture of my mind’s eye, to open it wider, to let in more light. I need to see, to know differently. I try to move myself so that what I can see of the world changes. I need to see, to know the world differently.”(Condon, I Hope I Join the Band, p. 62)

meet gisela glaser
Meet Gisela Glaser

“My story should matter.

It should count for something.”


using testimony in the classroom
Using Testimony in the Classroom


As primary documentation of the Holocaust;

As a humanizing element to the overwhelming “statistics” of the Holocaust;

To authenticate the literature ;

To build contemporary human connections to historical times;

Because it’s formative: people care about people!

Testimony Makes the Content Relevant!

using testimony in the classroom1
Using Testimony in the Classroom


Personal stories are subjective, so they contain factual errors;

Personal stories meet the needs of the storyteller– survivors are not historians;

Students can universalize individual stories to represent the whole (aka The Danger of One Story);

Personal stories can be manipulated and manipulative, presented out of context,

The Teacher Must Provide Context to Testimony

testimony as touchstone and mentor text
Testimony as Touchstone and Mentor Text

Touchstone Text: A text that doesn’t go away; it becomes a force in your own life and the way you act in the world.

Mentor Text: A text that becomes a curricular anchor/framework for teaching and learning.

 If we hear only a single story about another person or country, we risk a critical misunderstanding.ChimamandaAdichie

understanding narrative structure of testimony at usc shoah foundation
Understanding Narrative Structure of Testimony at USC Shoah Foundation

1) PRE-HOLOCAUST– Survivor remembers life and family before the war.

2) HOLOCAUST—Survivor tells the story of events, etc., during the Holocaust.

3) POST-HOLOCAUST—Survivor tells of coming to America, finding career, love, etc.

4) CONTEMPORARY REALITY—Survivor tells of personal/family reality in current day; often involves photos of family.

5) MESSAGE TO FUTURE—Survivor is invited to leave a legacy message.

Nostalgia: An Aching or Yearning for the Nest

from corey s rationale for holocaust education
from Corey’s Rationale for Holocaust Education

Holocaust education in English allows me to focus on stories and characters. Real stories, true stories, told to us by the people who lived at that time and the historians who make sure stories and memories are understood in the context of the times that were lived….