The future of Holocaust education…

genocide todayWhy the Jews?

Why didn’t they (the Jews of WWII) rebel?

How could all the other countries let this happen?

These are the questions most middle and high school students ask when first introduced to the subject of the Holocaust.  The answers are not simple or easy.  Creating an understanding of social responsibility, democracy and freedom, is a formidable task.

With the passing of each remaining Holocaust survivor, the difficult of relating this historic event in a compelling manner, becomes more difficult.  Who will tell their story? Do the students of today recognize the dynamics of this history lesson? Will they remember, and in so doing, keep from repeating this tragedy ?

Such are the questions that drive the passion of the educators, historians and museum administrators dedicated to keeping the lessons of the Holocaust alive.  Holocaust and Genocide.  Where the Holocaust ends, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Rwanda, Darfur and many other nations continue the battle against persecution. How will we; How do we; as a society, respond? 

This winter I had the privilege to attend a meeting of the Western Region of Holocaust education centers. Traveling from as far away as Alaska, the collective delegates represented the most well-respected authorities on Holocaust and genocide in the country, much less the world. Sponsored by the United States Holocaust memorial Museum, participants included the SHOAH Foundation, Jewish Partisan Educational Foundation, Oregon State, Chapman, Sonoma State, University’ of Las Vegas and Reno, to name a few.

Facilitated by Dr. Peter Fredlake, Coordinator of the Museum Teacher Fellowship Program of the USHMM, the two and a half day workshop embraced a “World Cafe” format where every attendee had the opportunity to meet one another while addressing key issues faced by Holocaust educators around the globe. Among the questions asked: “As a teacher, “what ethical dilemma’s do you face in the classroom?” and “what are the challenges of reaching young people in the 21st century?”

While funding and resources were repeatedly mentioned, the need for ethnic and political sensitivity while delivering Holocaust material in a multi-cultural, public versus private, classroom setting made educators at the high school and college level nod in agreement.

Two interactive video conferences connected USHMM headquarters in Washington D.C. to the UNLV campus, the subjects covered: The role of teachers in Nazi Germany and the Documents of Propaganda. The use of the internet as a research tool, and as the means in which students today make conscious decisions about their social values, was a hot topic.  The group debated the use of Google Earth’s weblink to The Crisis in Darfur and YouTube’s policy on policing hate language to create engaging dialog regarding WWII and current events. Several participants discussed having used teleconferencing to create an international network between similar age students studying tolerance and democracy, in the US, Israel and Europe.

One of the most rewarding results of the breakout brainstorming sessions was the abundance of offers between centers thousands of miles apart, to share/co-sponsor their “Traveling Trunks”, visiting lecturers, film and musical performances via live feed and streaming video uplinks. The prospect of interlinking websites, co-authoring classroom guides and replicating community events such as the “Day of Learning” , appeared to have successfully fulfilled the resource network Dr. Fredlake had hoped to establish. 

Stephanie Hartman, K-12 Consultant on Social Studies for the State of Nevada DOE and American History Project Facilitator, Sharon Carter delved into plans for a Nevada teacher symposium [on the Holocaust] as the state guidelines for social studies education are being re-evaluated once again. (Guidelines are revised on a regular basis). Leaders from the Sperling, Mack, Kronberg Library for Holocaust Studies, located in Las vegas and USHMM teaching fellow Patricia Holland, were quick to offer their support for 2009 gathering.

Adaire Klein, Director of Library & Archival Services for the Simon Weisenthal Center was quick to distribute material on the variety of curriculm support available from the Museum of Tolerance and SWC.  Morgan Blum, Director of Education for the Holocaust Center of Northern California, discussed age appropriate activities and cross-curricular teaching through the use of music, art and theater.  The ADL, Shoah Foundation and LA Museum of the Holocaust delivered updates on their organizations participation in continuing to develop and support Holocaust education in the classroom and on the Web.

After two and a half exhaustive days and evenings, the participants bundled their books, DVD’s and promotional packages for the trip home.  Refreshed and renewed with ideas and technology, many repeated the question that shadows their efforts on a daily basis; “If not us, who?”… and for the future, it was followed by, we are prepared for the next generation.”

 

Sarah Lander Marks is the author of Artist’s Proof, she lives in Las Vegas and writes commentary on Jewish, social and humorous themes.

 

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~ by Lander Marks on April 25, 2008.

8 Responses to “The future of Holocaust education…”

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  2. […] The future of Holocaust education…24 Apr 2008 by mycarlady Sponsored by the United States Holocaust memorial Museum, participants included the SHOAH Foundation, Jewish Partisan Educational Foundation, Oregon State, Chapman, Sonoma State, University’ of Las Vegas and Reno, to name a few. … […]

  3. […] The future of Holocaust education…24 Apr 2008 by mycarlady Sponsored by the United States Holocaust memorial Museum, participants included the SHOAH Foundation, Jewish Partisan Educational Foundation, Oregon State, Chapman, Sonoma State, University’ of Las Vegas and Reno, to name a few. …rememberorrepeat – https://rememberorrepeat.wordpress.com […]

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