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Teaching the Holocaust: Innovative Approaches to the Challenges We Face

Explore history, delve into pedagogical challenges revealed by research, and find practical solutions for teaching the Holocaust.

4,585 enrolled on this course

  • Duration

    3 weeks
  • Weekly study

    3 hours

The Holocaust was the murder of approximately 6 million Jews perpetrated by Nazi Germany and its collaborators. That this atrocity proved possible raises many complex questions which remain relevant for young people today.

During this course you will enrich your understanding of the history of the Holocaust, hearing from scholars at Yad Vashem, whilst experts from UCL will share their research into teaching and learning about the Holocaust.

By the end of the course you will have also considered innovative pedagogical approaches and resources, becoming empowered to develop your own material.

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Skip to 0 minutes and 5 seconds Now I look to the right, and I see a truck come along. And the truck stops in front of us. And in the middle, sit my wife and child. And then it went– the truck went. And I never saw them again.

Skip to 0 minutes and 29 seconds The Holocaust– the unprecedented attempt made by Nazi Germany and its collaborators to murder the Jewish people– is one of the most difficult events modern history has known. It brought moral values to a collapse. And basic notions of humanity were shaken to the core.

Skip to 0 minutes and 50 seconds Decades later, as we try to teach about this earth-shattering event, especially to young people, we are confronted by challenges and questions. What is the Holocaust? How do you define it? How was it humanly possible? When and where did it happen? How did the Nazis rise to power? How do we teach the Holocaust to young people? If you want to know what we lost, let’s get to know what existed. What are the misconceptions that persist? The majority of students hold Hitler as solely responsible for the Holocaust. It wasn’t only the Germans who committed the Holocaust. It was a European project. What principles should guide our teaching approaches? The historian teaches the past. The educator has to give the past meaning.

Skip to 1 minute and 36 seconds Join our teams from Yad Vashem and UCL as we attempt to address these and other questions. Join us as we will examine the main historical events of the Holocaust. And we will present how the testimonies of the survivors are crucial in studying the Holocaust. This is what humanises history. It’s what makes it about real people. We will introduce you to guiding principles and lesson materials through expert interviews, tutorials, historical footage, artefacts, maps, and art. We aim to build your own historical knowledge and equip you with the tools to tackle the significant pedagogic challenges that confront any teacher of the Holocaust.

Skip to 2 minutes and 18 seconds If you want to learn about this seminal event in world history and how to teach it, come and join us in this course. Teaching the Holocaust– Innovative Approaches to the Challenges We Face.


  • Week 1

    Holocaust History: An Introduction (Yad Vashem)

    • Introduction

      "What was the Holocaust?" In this activity we will address this question and provide you with a brief introduction to the course's content and structure. We will also invite you to introduce yourselves.

    • Jewish Life in Prewar Europe

      Grasping what was lost entails knowing what came before. Who were the people that were targeted by the Nazis? What are the roots of antisemitism and Nazi Ideology? Who was Leon Greenman and what can we learn from his testimony?

    • Nazi Germany 1933-1939

      In this activity we will discuss the anti-Jewish policies and measures implemented during the first six years of the Third Reich's existance. We will also explore the challenges facing Jews who wanted to flee Nazi Germany.

    • War and the Expansion of Nazi Rule in Europe 1939-1941

      In this activity we will discuss the outbreak of WWII, the expansion of Nazi occupation and the following anti-Jewish policy - measures of mass violence, degradation, isolation and the incarceration of the Jews in ghettos.

    • The Final Solution: 1941-1945

      In this activity we will discuss the development of the Final Solution, the deportations and mass murder of the Jews. We will present aspects of everyday life in the Nazi camps and also examine resistance and rescue efforts.

    • Liberation and Aftermath

      "Liberated but not free": Concluding the first week, this activity focuses on liberation - from the first moments, to the survivors' lifelong struggle to rebuild their lives. What did liberation mean for Holocaust survivors?

  • Week 2

    Teaching about the Holocaust: what are the challenges we face?

    • Introduction

      This week looks at some of the challenges teachers of the Holocaust face and how misunderstandings about the Holocaust young people bring to class sometimes further complicate the teacher’s task.

    • Teaching and learning about the Holocaust

      Students are able to engage with the study of the Holocaust but what are the challenges to learning about the Holocaust that affect teachers and their students? Find out from the Centre's leading research.

    • Knowledge and understanding

      So what do young people know and understand about the Holocaust? What misconceptions still remain after studying the subject? What are the key issues we need to consider when teaching about this complex past?

    • A future without survivors – a universal challenge

      A universal challenge of huge significance to Holocaust education is when there are no more survivors to bear witness. We need to consider what will be lost and what can be done in educational terms to prepare for that time.

    • Summing up Week 2

      Here, we sum up the challenges we have examined over this last week. Next week we’ll be concentrating on ways to meet these challenges.

  • Week 3

    Innovative approaches to teaching about the Holocaust

    • Welcome

      This week will focus on how we can effectively teach the Holocaust mindful of the history we have covered in Week 1 and the pedagogic issues raised in Week 2.

    • Pedagogical principles

      What pedagogical principles should guide Holocaust education? We will hear from education experts from two leading institutions, Yad Vashem and UCL Centre for Holocaust Education, as they reflect on this important question.

    • Practical applications

      Here we share materials developed by the Centre and Yad Vashem that incorporate key pedagogical principles and respond to issues raised in Week 2. Towards the end of this week you will design your own educational material.

    • Concluding the course

      Here we sum up the learning you have undertaken and end with the words of Professor Yehuda Bauer talking about the importance of learning about the Holocaust.

    • Next steps

      Here you will find out more about what you can do next should you wish to pursue professional development in Holocaust education.

When would you like to start?

Start straight away and join a global classroom of learners. If the course hasn’t started yet you’ll see the future date listed below.

  • Available now

Learning on this course

On every step of the course you can meet other learners, share your ideas and join in with active discussions in the comments.

Who is the course for?

Adults who are engaged in the following work may find this course especially helpful. A basic introduction to the history of the Holocaust will be covered on the course.

  • Teachers of high school age students;
  • Senior leaders in schools;
  • Teacher training providers;
  • Further Education lecturers;
  • Higher Education lecturers;
  • Youth workers;
  • Heritage sector educators;
  • Informal educators;
  • Home school educators;
  • Interested parents.

Who will you learn with?

Programme Director UCL Centre for Holocaust Education

Dr Na'ama Bela Shik is the Director of Educational Technology Department in The International School for Holocaust Studies at Yad Vashem.

Lecturer in Holocaust and History Education at UCL Centre for Holocaust Education.

Lecturer at UCL Centre for Holocaust Education.

Project Manager, Content Developer and Educator at the E-Learning Department at The International School for Holocaust Studies, Yad Vashem.

Content Developer & Visual History Consultant at the E-Learning Department at
The International School for Holocaust Studies, Yad Vashem

Who developed the course?

UCL (University College London)

UCL was founded in 1826. It was the first English university established after Oxford and Cambridge, and the first to open up university education to those previously excluded from it.

Yad Vashem

As the Jewish people’s living memorial to the Holocaust, Yad Vashem safeguards the memory of the past and imparts its meaning for future generations.

Learning on FutureLearn

Your learning, your rules

  • Courses are split into weeks, activities, and steps to help you keep track of your learning
  • Learn through a mix of bite-sized videos, long- and short-form articles, audio, and practical activities
  • Stay motivated by using the Progress page to keep track of your step completion and assessment scores

Join a global classroom

  • Experience the power of social learning, and get inspired by an international network of learners
  • Share ideas with your peers and course educators on every step of the course
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  • Whenever you’re ready, mark each step as complete, you’re in control
  • Complete 90% of course steps and all of the assessments to earn your certificate

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