Holocaust Education in the Classroom By Hilary Bachman
Questions about the Holocaust • Some educators have argued that students are overexposed to the Holocaust curriculum (AKA Holocaust fatigue). • The Holocaust used to serve as the main way to teach about genocide; however, more recent genocides in Sudan and Rwanda are starting to replace it.
The Standards • The GPS includes the Holocaust twice in the curriculum- once in middle school and once in high school • 6th grade- “identify Nazi ideology, policies, and consequences that led to the Holocaust” • World History- “explain the impact of WWII in terms of the Holocaust”
Best Practices (according to the literature) • What NOT to do when teaching the Holocaust: • Statistics, graphic images and generalizations • Simulations or role-playing • What to DO: • Engage in memoirs and first hand accounts • Teach the Holocaust as a world-wide phenomenon • Know the material well • Focus on a central question
Interviews • Since I am not currently teaching I got my research from Holocaust organizations. • The first interview was with the head of education at the William Breman Jewish Heritage and Holocaust Museum in Atlanta, GA • The second interview was with the head of education at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM) in Washington, D.C. • Each person was asked similar questions regarding their views on the relevance of the Holocaust, its inclusion in the curriculum, and best practices.
Results • The concept of Holocaust fatigue was denied, stating that with millions of students the majority of them will not be learning too much about the Holocaust. • The Holocaust helps explain later genocides • We must preserve the victims’ memories; the best way to be respectful and sensitive is by better understanding their lives
Recommendations for Teachers • Like the literature said, NO simulations- they are offensive and ineffective teaching tools for the Holocaust • Graphic images can be used but the teacher must remember the context • Use inquiry-driven lessons • What the literature missed: the underrepresented topics such as: • The peaceful Jewish resistance movement • Diversity of experiences • Women in the Holocaust • The loss of Jewish identity and culture
“History has shown that wherever anti-Semitism has gone unchecked, the persecution of others has been present or not far behind. Defeating anti-Semitism must be a cause of great importance not only for Jews, but for all people who value humanity and justice….”*US Department of State, 2008 Adl.org