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ERIC Number: EJ894149
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2010-Jun
Pages: 22
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 54
ISSN: ISSN-0033-1538
Mind the Gap: Holocaust Education in Germany, between Pedagogical Intentions and Classroom Interactions
Meseth, Wolfgang; Proske, Matthias
Prospects: Quarterly Review of Comparative Education, v40 n2 p201-222 Jun 2010
The injunction to learn from history is a key feature of German debates over the politics of memory and history, which, since the end of World War II, have been seen primarily pedagogical. Thus, state schools were asked to serve as society's central location for memory and learning. Research on history education has rarely addressed questions about how instruction on the history of National Socialism (NS) plays out in practice, about how ambitious educational goals are implemented at the level of actual instruction, or about the challenges that teachers and students face when they are asked to address such a morally fraught topic. This paper presents findings from a qualitative study that explored these issues using analyses of concrete classroom experience. The paper is based on four carefully selected case studies. The first looks at how a contemporary account of the issue and its moral implications are handled in the classroom. The second examines the consequences for classroom discussion of a discrepancy between teacher expectations and student interpretations of an excerpt from Hitler's "Mein Kampf." The third also addresses a discrepancy, focusing on the institutionalized generation gap in school. Finally, the fourth case shows how instructional communication benefits when participants assume a reciprocal, though not always articulated, consensus opinion on NS. The interpretation of the cases illustrates how both the organizational framework of schools and the specific conditions of classroom interaction shape the treatment of NS. Classroom interactions are strongly influenced by the quirky, often unexpected, ways that students appropriate knowledge--ways that often conflict with the intended content of the lesson and with public expectations for the treatment of Germany's past. The analysis reveals a tension between the under-moralization and the over-moralization of teaching the Holocaust, and a tension between the need to represent the crimes of NS adequately, and to fulfill the goals of moral education.
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Germany