1 year ago



Jumping classroom walls:

Jumping classroom walls: bringing the world to your students HOLOCAUST EDUCATION IN PEDAGOGY, HISTORY, AND PRACTICE 118 If learning experiences are to compete with the rich life students have outside the classroom interacting with the world through Facebook and YouTube, Instagram and Google, students must engage with the world through new technologies as students, as well. CENTROPA helps teachers bring the world to their classrooms in three ways: Resources about 20 th century life in Central and Eastern Europe: CENTROPA’s short, multimedia films about Jewish life in Central and Eastern Europe bring the world into the classroom through maps, photographs, and the wide variety of languages in which the films are narrated (they have English subtitles): German, Serbian, Czech, Hungarian, Bulgarian, Lithuanian, Russian, Polish, Macedonian, and even a few in Ladino (the Spanish-Hebrew hybrid language of Sephardic Jews). Students learn from first-person narrators about 20 th century European life and places they have never heard of, a world beyond their own, yet one where people not so different from themselves grew up, went through hell, and survived to tell about it. Personal encounters with history: Teachers cannot teach something they do not know, which is why CENTROPA’s summer academies – eight days in the great cities of Central and Eastern Europe where several dozen teachers from 15 countries learn together and design projects for the coming year – are an important resource for teachers who want to bring the world to their students. Unlike traditional Holocaust-related professional development programs (in ten years, CENTROPA has only brought teachers to Theresienstadt twice and Auschwitz-Birkenau once), CENTROPA wants teachers to return home with an enriched sense of Central and Eastern European life throughout the 20 th century. Tours of the old Jewish neighborhoods of pre-war Berlin or Krakow consist of reading first-hand descriptions from CENTROPA interviewees of their family lives, stories of growing up in the neighborhood, and anecdotes about school. Teachers read these excerpts while standing on the streets and in front of the buildings where these experiences took place. They then bring those excerpts back to their classes and, using Googlemaps’ street view, take their students on a virtual version of the very same tour. Summer Academy participants also return home with a deeper understanding of European life in the past few decades because they meet with state and city officials, community leaders and ambassadors, as well as members of the Jewish community, including survivors. They work in international groups, getting to

know educators from Austria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Lithuania, Macedonia, Poland, and elsewhere, learning how each country has dealt with the painful events of the Holocaust, and how schools in those countries teach the Holocaust today. Eating meals together, collaborating on lessons, touring, and going out together at the end of a long day, teachers learn a lot more about the impact of the Holocaust in Europe post-war, during Communism and post-Communism, than anything they might read in a magazine, newspaper, or journal. The global classroom: CENTROPA’s teachers create cross-cultural partnerships with schools in other countries – and their students get to know one another through emails, videos, and Skype calls, connecting directly with teens their age. Projects range from one-time interactions to ongoing explorations of a particular topic. Many students in Central and Eastern European schools make videos about their town’s Jewish history – often in towns where there are no Jews left – then share them with North American students. For students who may never leave their city, county, province, or state, these are opportunities to experience the world often not otherwise available to them, the kind of projects that have value for students eager to understand themselves as part of a global world. If we want to motivate students, our content and pedagogies must compete with the real world students interact with through their devices. CENTROPA’s online materials, professional development opportunities, and international teachers’ network offer teachers resources to help them do just that. Conclusion Our understanding of history naturally shifts as time moves forward. The Holocaust will never be forgotten but how we teach it will change as society changes and we move further away from the traumatic events that defined previous generations. The question is: how can we keep the Holocaust relevant for our students? Teaching beyond the twelve years between 1933 and 1945 will become key to Holocaust education as we naturally begin to see the devastating events of those years in a larger context. As generations pass away, we will need resources such as CENTROPA to help us give our students a fuller picture of the Holocaust and its impact on 20 th and early 21 st century history. 119 HOLOCAUST EDUCATION IN PEDAGOGY, HISTORY, AND PRACTICE Endnotes 1 Cathy Davidson, Now You See It: How Technology and Brain Science Will Transform Schools and Business for the 21st Century, Penguin Books, 2011. 2 Alan November. TedexNYED Talk. 5 November 2011. Online video. Accessed June 28, 2015.

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