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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.

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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.

What topics will you cover?

Week 1

Introduction to the History of the Holocaust: What was the Holocaust?

  • Overview of Jewish life before the war;
  • The roots of antisemitism;
  • The story of the late Holocaust survivor Leon Greenman;
  • The beginning and un-folding of the Holocaust 1933-onwards;
  • Emigration options for Jewish people and the reception of refugees around the world;
  • The beginning of the Second World War and the Holocaust from 1939 onwards;
  • The ghettos;
  • The development of the ‘Final Solution’;
  • Resistance and rescue;
  • Concentration and extermination camps;
  • Liberation;
  • Return to life.

Week 2

  • Can young people grasp the enormity of this history?
  • What are the challenges that teachers face?
  • What do students know and understand about the Holocaust?
  • What are the issues in textbooks?
  • Using atrocity images? An ethical question;
  • What are the implications of misconceptions?
  • How do we teach about the Holocaust in a world without survivors?

Week 3

  • What are key pedagogical principles to keep in mind?
  • How can we apply key pedagogical principles in our teaching practice?
  • How can we address misconceptions?
  • How can using artefacts deepen student understanding of the Holocaust?
  • Theory into practice: Developing your own classroom material.

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.

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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

Senior Teaching Fellow, UCL Centre for Holocaust Education.

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.

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