ERIC Number: EJ775773
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2007-Sep
Reference Count: 20
Avoiding Inappropriate Pedagogy in Middle School Teaching of the Holocaust
Lindquist, David H.
Middle School Journal (J3), v39 n1 p24-31 Sep 2007
Teaching and studying the Holocaust is a complex and sensitive undertaking. The dynamics of dealing with a modern, technologically advanced state's attempt to annihilate all members of a given group of people for racial reasons involves tortuous twists and turns that challenge the most sophisticated of thinkers, leading to a situation in which both "what" happened and "how" it happened strain students' capabilities to comprehend the human capacity for behavior in extremis. Thus, teachers must display a high degree of historical knowledge and pedagogical judgment in planning and implementing Holocaust curricula. Flawed approaches fail to meet several important criteria for Holocaust education, thus diminishing the historicity of the event while preventing students from understanding either its cognitive or affective implications. Although well-intentioned, such misguided attempts to "engage" students (1) fail to establish a sound rationale for teaching the Holocaust; (2) fail to establish a valid historical context; (3) diminish the complexity of the event; (4) trivialize what happened to the victims and survivors; and (5) fail to protect the emotional and psychological well-being of young adolescents. However, giving due consideration to each of these points is essential if a Holocaust unit is to be both meaningful and appropriate. This article examines how each of these shortcomings diminishes the effectiveness and appropriateness of Holocaust education. Each problem is identified, and the diminution in the effectiveness of Holocaust education that the problem causes is discussed. A corollary approach that will help teachers overcome each problem is then proposed. Because the possibilities for appropriate methods to be used in teaching the Holocaust are virtually limitless, the corollary approaches focus on broad thematic overviews rather than on specific lesson plans or classroom activities. A concluding section summarizes the findings and reemphasizes the need for educators to consider carefully the "why" and "how" of Holocaust education.
Descriptors: Teaching Methods, Learning Activities, Class Activities, Jews, Death, Middle Schools, History Instruction, Moral Values, War, Controversial Issues (Course Content)
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Publication Type: Guides - Classroom - Teacher; Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Middle Schools
Authoring Institution: N/A