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Primary Education News
News How to teach … stories from the Holocaust
The Guardian Teacher Network has resources this week to help you explore the Holocaust and the stories of its survivors
The proposed changes to the history curriculum leave the study of the Holocaust more or less intact. One approach to introducing and further exploring the subject is via individuals' stories, told through film and visual history.
The Guardian Teacher Network has thought-provoking teaching resources to share, with the focus on a set of resources centred on Steven Spielberg's award-winning film Schindler's List, created by www.schindlerslegacy.co.uk to mark the film's 20th anniversary. The film, which tells the story of a group of Jewish people saved by the actions of a German businessman, Oskar Schindler, has been much used in schools all over the world.
Spielberg used the profits of the film to set up the Shoah Foundation to collect Holocaust survivors' stories. It has so far captured the experience of almost 52,000 people through video testimonies, including Holocaust survivors who were on Schindler's list. Earlier this year the last people who were on the list died, making the testimonies invaluable.
A great cross-curricular introduction for tutor time or pupil enrichment to people's stories is the Attitudes matter PowerPoint and associated teachers' notes, which introduce the themes of the film and lead into finding examples of discrimination in the present day, times when we have seen someone being treated badly and how difficult it can be to stand up for what we know is right.
The Why is it important to remember PowerPoint and teachers' notes investigate the issues in the PSHE classroom. Central to the lesson is watching this five-minute montage, including clips from the Holocaust survivors' testimonies, historical footage and the Schindler's List movie. Now the survivors who were on Schindler's list have died, does this make it more or less important that we remember what happened?
How powerful is visual history? This PowerPoint and teachers' notes looks at the importance of recording video testimonies of ordinary people as well as using film as a medium to understand history. Is it helpful or unhelpful to understand the Holocaust by focusing on the story of one person? Some people have criticised Schindler's List as presenting Oskar Schindler as a hero when the truth may have been more complicated than that (see particularly PPT slides eight and nine). Two clips are particularly interesting, comparing the same incident – The Children, an account of what happened from survivors, and The children wave goodbye, a clip of the same scene from the film. Students can discuss each clip's pros and cons as a source to look at history. There are more film clips, survivor testimonies and historical footage to explore on www.schindlerslegacy.co.uk.
Filmclub, the education charity dedicated to transforming young lives through film, has shared an excellent guide to using other films on the Holocaust in class, including resources and talking points on seven films: The Diary of Anne Frank, Paper Clips, Sarah's Key, Life is Beautiful, Sophie's Choice, Everything is Illuminated and In Darkness. Find out about joining Filmclub for free here.
And many thanks to the Holocaust Educational Trust (HET) for sharing some powerful resources. See exploring Dilemmas, choices and responses to the Holocaust, which looks at the impulse to assign blame and ascribe responsibility for what happened as a way of making sense of the events and understanding why and how they happened. The resource demonstrates the complexities of history and moves understanding of human behaviour beyond reductive notions of "good" people versus "bad" people.
HET teamed up the Football Association to produce this film in which England squad players including Steven Gerrard and Joe Hart discuss the impact of their visit to the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp just before the Euro 2012 finals. The film is a moving introduction to the Holocaust and looks at the stories of survivors. HET has created these thought-provoking teachers' notes to go with the film. Also find this worksheet to encourage students to think about the meaning of the Holocaust.
You can find out more about the Holocaust Educational Trust Lessons From Auschwitz project, which includes continuing professional development (CPD) for teachers and school visits to Auschwitz-Birkenau.
Also don't miss the teaching resources created by the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust www.hmd.org.uk, including Steve Frank and the Holocaust. Steve Frank's father, Leonard, sheltered Jews and fought for their rights as the Nazis began to persecute them.
Join the Guardian Teacher Network community www.guardian.co.uk/teacher-network for free access to teaching resources and an opportunity to share your own. There are also thousands of teaching, leadership and support jobs on the site. Visit http://jobs.guardian.co.uk/schools.