Study: 83% of Israeli Students Want More Lessons on Holocaust

July 6, 2009

Source: Ynet News


Thirty-four years after the Holocaust, the Education Ministry decided a special lesson program should be implemented in high-schools to teach younger generations about the Holocaust and the events leading up to it. Now 30 years after students began formally studying one of the darkest periods in Jewish history, and 10 years after schools began sending organized groups to Poland, a new study examines what kind of an impact the special program has achieved.


The two year study of over 2500 Israeli high school students and hundreds of high school teachers and administrators found that 83% of the students want more lessons on Holocaust and 80% believe that learning about the Holocaust is relevant to their lives. Most of those who participate in school-organized trips to death camps in Poland feel more bound to universal human values. The study, conducted by Dr. Erik Cohen of the Bar Ilan University's Churgin School of Education , was presented at a teachers' conference on Holocaust education at Yad Vashem.


The study took a close look at the annual school trips to Poland for 11th graders, as these trips have at times garnered bad press due to inappropriate behavior from students, mostly when they are caught drinking alcohol.


"There's a big difference between students who went to Poland and those who didn't," Cohen stresses. "Students who did go want to learn more, and feel more obligated to universal values. What the media puts a spotlight on are isolated incidents. The trip to Poland is very central to the students." Cohen also found that Holocaust education has remained one of the most stable curricula in the system.


Avner Shalev, chairman of the Yad Vashem directorate remarked: "The study's findings prove that the Holocaust refuses to be just a history lesson. The hard work of the Yad Vashem's School for Holocaust Studies has managed to make Holocaust education meaningful and relevant to today's students. Teaching the Holocaust has become a discipline unto its own."

Updated: Jul. 13, 2009