While virtually all Jewish educators agree on the importance of teaching the Holocaust, opinions vary about when and how it is best to teach Jewish students about this horrific event in Jewish and human history. This project explores these choices and offers recommendations for teaching about the Holocaust in a way that is responsive to the particular needs of students and teachers at Jewish day schools.
The researcher interviewed educators from nine Jewish day schools about Holocaust education at their schools. This small-scale study sought to answer the following questions: Who designs and chooses Holocaust curricula in Jewish day schools? What factors affect their decisions? In which classes and grade levels do they teach the Holocaust? What content areas, methods, and resources are missing from the pool of Holocaust curricula available?
Four recommendations for Jewish day school educators emerged out of this research study.
- Schools should develop a curricular plan based on goals that align with the mission of the school.
- Educators should consider introducing the Holocaust in earlier grades in order to give elementary school students the opportunities to learn important lessons about values and heritage.
- Teaching the Holocaust is challenging for a number of reasons, and Jewish day schools should provide teachers with opportunities to attend professional development trainings to learn Holocaust content and instructional methods.
- The Holocaust should be taught through a model that integrates general studies and Jewish studies in order to allow students to explore how the Holocaust relates to their Jewish identity.
In addition to these recommendations, this study led to the development of a curriculum guide for Jewish high school students on Jewish memory and Holocaust remembrance.