Maurice Elias Simone A. Schweber, Making Sense of the Holocaust: Lessons from Classroom Practice. New York: Teachers College Press, 2004. 185pp. $19.95 paperback The study of exemplars opens varying kinds of windows through which one can make inferences about typical performance. Simone Schweber’s book features an extensive look at three teachers’ classes about the Holocaust,
Bruce Powell For those of us who spend our professional and often personal lives living and learning among high school students, we understand that hormones are far more powerful than halakhah. Thus, teaching ethics to high school students is far more about culture and context than about pedagogy or curriculum. Jewish tradition suggests that in
Why do we teach the Holocaust? How old should students be when they first begin a serious study of this history? What context is necessary and how should we frame the history? How do we avoid traumatizing students or paralyzing them with overwhelming content?
Round Table Discussion
Learning about the Holocaust enables students, both Jewish and non-Jewish, to explore questions about why the Holocaust happened and how the student might have acted had he or she lived in Germany when Hitler came to power. These questions, whether taught in a history, religion, or civics class, have great educational value because they help shape a student’s sense of identity, of their civic and communal responsibility, and of their place in the world. Students learn about racism, how genocide occurs, and what happens when democratic values and practices are not protected.
Jews from our earliest formative days have always had to ask the question: If God is good why is there such pain and suffering in the world? Our latest share of storms, tsunamis, earthquakes, wars, and terrorism underscore the same religious question. It’s important to admit to our children that though we really do not know the answer, we need to search for one together, and in the meantime continue to live and love.
1. Should Jewish schools use the Holocaust to teach moral lessons? If so, which ones?
2. How do we integrate the observance of Yom haShoah into Jewish educational curricula?
3. What is the rubric for teaching about the Holocaust in Jewish schools?
4. Does Holocaust education focus too much curricula attention on death?