Each victim had a name and family...
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- Holocaust Museum in the Classroom « Holocaust Education international on Participants
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In my region, the Holocaust is only lightly touched (three paragraphs) in our Social Studies Curriculum at the grade 8 level. My students are 14 years old. Most live in or around fishing villages. They are almost all Christian and white. They are in a public school with almost no diversity with a good proportion being from a low socio-economic background.
The purpose of this workshop is to have teachers realize that they can have students invest in understanding the Holocaust on more than a passive level, to impress upon students the magnitude of the Holocaust, (I want them to understand how many 6 million are), to have students become teachers of the Holocaust, to have people talk about the Holocaust in their homes and in the community at large, to lay the foundations for studying other cases of genocide at the high school level, and to make the Holocaust unforgettable in the minds of students.
Problems: How to teach the Holocaust to a white, Christian, fishing community and have them care about the topic, so distant in the past. How to enthuse students to want to talk about the Holocaust to others. How to deal with deniers.
The materials I used were powerful to the senses, inexpensive, and they involved the greater community.
Teaching Methods: I will share information freely, I will use the Socratic method, student participation, technology, and foster creative variations for successful museums.
Teaching Materials and curriculum
Curriculum: Jewish life prior to the Holocaust (picture study), Maus, Night, Diary of Ann Frank, information on Janusz Korczak, Ann Frank, Max Kolbe, Nazi Platform (1926), Nuremberg Laws, Ghetto (video), Schindler’s List video, Holocaust Timeline,
Tommy Pictures, list of Schindler’s Jews, Holocaust Museum Topics, map of Death Camps, map of ghettos, poster panels from Atlantic Jewish Council, passport document display, CD recording of victims names, CD recording of original songs from ghettoes, enamel pot, Whitwell Tennessee Paper Clip chain
three case histories : Anne Frank, Janusz Korczak, Max Kolbe, picture of the model of Auschwitz killing Factory, list of Schindler’s Jews, symbols on prisoners’ uniforms, paper clips.
I created a Holocaust Museum in my classroom. After studying about the Holocaust, my students became the teachers to the other grade levels in the school and to the general public. These materials and curricular texts were chosen to help students appreciate the magnitude of the loss. When they saw 100 000 paper clips hanging in chains from our ceiling (centre piece to the museum), they could better understand the quantity of six million. When they had some history of the people, in particular the three case studies of Karczak, Frank and Kolbe, they could better relate to their loss. When they understood the enormity of the injustice, they were ready to talk about it and share their knowledge and their feelings. The Classroom Holocaust Museum that they actively helped create gave them the ideal venue to do this. The materials and curricular documents were needed to both build understanding and create the museum.
I have created and used many simulations. This was by far the most powerful lesson I have ever taught. After summer vacation, students came to me asking me to teach them more about the Holocaust this year. They showed that they cared about what happened. This fosters life-long learning.
During the instructional time students cried, screamed, and expressed their feelings in various ways. They were incensed at the injustice and the lunacy they saw. This gave way to professionalism when they became the tour guides to their museum. They were extremely eager to share what they had learned with students from other grade levels and with the general public. Parents and the public were most impressed. The comments in our Visitors Book testify to this. The museum drew the attention of our two national TV networks and from one local one. There was also newspaper media coverage. The students beamed with pride at their accomplishments every time we were covered in the media. As a result, there are 18 of my students who have taken part in the Asper Foundation Human Rights Course which brings us to Washington D.C. this May and which includes a lengthy visit to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. How fitting for my students.
I strongly encourage my colleagues to create a museum in their classrooms. It affords your students the opportunity to learn history in a meaningful and memorable manner. One of the advantages of the museum is that it can be designed at almost any grade level in the middle and senior high schools. It also opens cross curricular possibilities. In my school the Art, Language Arts, and Social Studies teachers teamed up to teach this unit. Math could easily be incorporated too.
Addendum: I would like to see 60 schools open a classroom Holocaust Museum in the same week in countries around the world. Each classroom could use 100 000 paper clips as the focal point of the museums. This would represent the 6 million who perished. I think this could draw a great deal of positive public attention to the Holocaust.
Wayne MacIntyre, Vice Principal with the Halifax Regional School Board at Herring Cove Junior High School, Herring Cove, Nova Scotia, Canada