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Holocaust - Yes or no? HELP ME

Discussion in 'History' started by samuelsmiles03, Feb 8, 2007.

  1. Thanks for that Bonkers.
    Ok I accept your point but if I can give you an example of the kids I just taught this lesson to...
    When I asked if they knew how most people at the death camps died each and every child in the class put their hand up. I then asked if they had seen pictures or films showing this and at least 20 from the 27 had their hands up.
    In Edinburgh we cover the Holocaust at P7 level as part of the transition work done with secondaries. Unbelievably we're supposed to cover this in 45 minutes... Anyhoo it is part of our work.
    Apparently Anne Frank and her death at Bergen Belsen is deemed appropriate enough for a newspaper writing lesson for our P5 classes (I altered the subject here as this was totally inappropriate).
    So, here we are with a class of enthusiastic children, most of whom have internet access and who know that the holocaust is a 'gory' subject. Personally, and my colleagues agreed with my approach here, I think it is better to cover certain aspects of this with the children whilst telling them that the more horrific ones are best left alone until the children are older and more mature. They really did accept this (one even said that the pictures he had 'looked up' were 'scary' and that he wouldn't look again).
    We left the 'death factory' approach but did talk about selections on the ramp and during work parties. The children were told that they were going to find out about this later.
    We then looked at a working day (appell, 'breakfast' and things such as positioning yourself to get the lower layers of the soup in the bucket as opposed to the watery top layer from a new bucket). These things are all age appropriate. I've also been told by a parent of a former pupil that my approach really did work for them - that they went from the 'cool' gore factor to a much more mature and responsible one.
    If you think of it this way - the holocaust was an appaling event and if I can get my children to know what it was and aspects of how bad it was then I am instilling a sense of responsibility within them - not as a history lesson but as one in morality.
    Approaching it from a different mentality...as a primary teacher I have, what I may stereotypically belive, is a much stronger knowledge of the pupils in my class, whilst in secondary (again perhaps stereotypically) you may have a much better understanding of the subject.
    Can I also put this into perspective...
    In P7 the pupils have just completed a topic on alcohol and drug abuse (not age appropriate but something they need to know)...in P6 they will have investigated the Glencoe massacre and also 'Feeling Yes Feeling No' (child protection).
    In P5 they will have done Old Edinburgh and the plague.
    I'm not saying that this makes it suddenly ok to show all sorts of horrors at P7 - I agree with you here but there are aspects which can be covered. You need to know the children and I'm not saying I would necessarily do this every year with each class.
    The kids will (and as I've shown) have looked up the 'net for images which are shocking. I feel it is my responsibility as a class teacher to be proactive here.
    One other point.
    In Scotland, from what I understand (and I'm really hoping I'm wrong here) history is only compulsory up to S2...after which they are choosing to take the subject. My personal belief is that the holocaust is such an important topic that it MUST be part of a compulsory scheme.
    In S2 our kids will be 14...is that two year gap really, increased child development notwithstanding, enough to enable ALL the horrors of Auschwitz, Birkenau etc to take in? I'm not sure it is. If you are mentioning taking older children round the camp then that's great but its only done if they choose the topic...
    In Edinburgh 3 years ago, the Holocaust Memorial Day commemorations involved our P7 pupils both in the ceremony and also in terms of the classes visiting a play based on Eugene Levy's book 'One More Dance' - this involved a section set in Birkenau...
    On the Anne Frank issue, as a primary teacher I spend ages looking at story writing and how you can engage people through the central character. Personally I think many children find it hard to remove this element from the real Anne Frank story...if they forget there is almost a moral lesson here, and 'engage' with the character as if the book was a story...then isn't the ending more horrific? Especially if it isn't covered until the kids are older...Don't we have a duty to look at this and help the children understand that this awful thing happened, and that perhaps areas can be looked at later in life...
    FYI one of my 9 yr olds has just completed reading this book...in an ideal world it might be good to leave the holocaust until the pupils can understand it but I feel that we aren't doing our best by them if we completely leave it out.
    I've yet to find a holocaust plan which works if it doesn't mention somehow what happened at the end...lets not do it in detail but at least lets cover some aspects.
    A slightly different argument might be this...if you approach the subject as I did (a moral - this must not happen again one) as opposed to a history lesson in what exactly happened then surely an idea of what happened (what 'life' was like for those selected to 'live' and the fact that most died) is more important that the detail of how it happened?
    To use a religous analogy for this argument...(and I'm not religious so I hope I don't offend anyone) there isn't a P1 in the country who doesnt know how to kill someone by crucifiction (sp?) yet for this 'lesson' we don't have to sit them in front of 'The Passion of the Christ'!
    I hope you see that I have tried to approach this in a measured way - I haven't just gone in gung ho and I really believe in what I've said (I only hope to hell its come across clearly!)
    I hope this helps make me seem like less of a scary teacher!
    Lets keep this one going as it can only help us all.
  2. PS Apologies for what looks like the biggest post I've ever seen...made sense when I wrote it...
  3. bonkers 704

    bonkers 704 Lead commenter

    Good post, rfh. Impressive stuff!
  4. Lol thanks - hope it makes sense.
  5. PS Samuel I need your email... I don't have stuff to send you but I can talk you through the plan if you want...Bonkers as a keen poster I'd be more than happy to let you in on it too (I'm actually looking for schools to pilot the final version if and when it happens...)
  6. Absolutely.. impressive stuff rfh..
  7. rfh12002...my e-mail is sam@football4charity.wanadoo.co.uk

    would be great if you could send me some stuff. Also could you explain a bit more the long message you posted? So the holocaust is taught in the Scotish curriculum in the last to years of primary? what age does that make them? cheers mate, you are a great help and look forward to receiving some stuff/info. Sam
  8. gmf


    Re: OP

    No, because they lack the depth of understanding and it is taught in KS3 to all pupils.
  9. GMF quick question...is KS3 still compulsory for pupils?
  10. rfh12002...did you receive my e-mail? just wandering as my e-mails are playing up a bit. cheers mate. sam
  11. Sam, transition work is not the same thing in many respects as teaching it as a unit of work over several weeks. If taught in Secondary I only ever found it in second year (equivalent of year 9). Hope this helps.
  12. Hi there Sam
    Yep I replied. If its not through then I'll try to resend.
  13. Scunnered...thanks for that, that is great and i am having such a good response.

    If EVERYONE could please ask their friends/family and more importantly their work collegues that would be really great. If you could either e-mail me responses or put them on this area of the forum it would be great.


    Sam Munnings
  14. Yes, by all means teach about the build up to the Holocaust - pre-war life, Nuremberg Laws etc.. Not, the attrocities of the Holocaust, or ghettos, camps etc.

    Teach younger ones about the Kindertransport etc... The rescuers - the people who saved Jews and others...

    The Holocaust Centre at Laxton, near Newark, Notts has a amazing resource 'The Journey' that is designed for primary students. They have experts in primary and Holocaust education who provide a 4 hour session for primary school groups. Highly recommended!
  15. Teaching the holocaust is very very important! I am Jewish and without knowing about the Holocaust I would not be able to understand why I am here today. However, teaching it in primary school is very very different as you have to understand the boundaries of discussion within the topic of the Holocaust as a lot of the subject matter is very very gruesome and should not be taught to young children. You need to understand the content matter yourself and then make a final decision but as a general rule even in Jewish schools the Holocuast is not taught but is discussed very simply in lessons.
  16. AdmiralNelson

    AdmiralNelson New commenter

    In primary schools - no (for reasons given by others); in secondary schools - yes, of course.

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