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Teaching about the Holocaust in English schools: challenges and possibilities

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Abstract

This article presents some principal findings from the first comprehensive national study of Holocaust education in England, which was conducted by the University of London’s Institute of Education. More than 2000 teachers provided insight into their teaching about the Holocaust, including their perceptions, perspectives and practice. This article identifies what appears to be some of the key challenges and concerns teachers encounter when teaching this emotive and complex subject. The findings suggest that teachers both value and recognise the importance of teaching about the Holocaust to young people. However, more than 80% of teachers declared themselves to be ‘self-taught,’ having previously had no professional development or formal instruction in teaching about the Holocaust. The research also demonstrated: (1) considerable uncertainty about the best way to teach the subject; (2) some ambiguity over aims and definitions; (3) narrowly focused content coverage; and (4) a lack of in-depth subject knowledge among many teachers. A central finding is that teachers proved more likely to focus on what may be termed perpetrator-oriented narratives: narratives that focus on the actions of the Nazis and their collaborators and commonly positioned Jewish people and other groups as silent and anonymous victims without agency or influence.

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Volume/Issue

24(1-2)

Page Number

133-148

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Link to article (paywalled), Teaching about the Holocaust in English schools: challenges and possibilities

Bibliographic Information

Foster, Stuart Teaching about the Holocaust in English schools: challenges and possibilities. Intercultural Education. 2013: 133-148.  https://archive.jpr.org.uk/10.1080/14675986.2013.772323