Cat from the Holocaust Education Trust delivered a fantastic session for the RE and History PGCE groups. In addition to covering the events of the Holocaust, trainees explored the significance of the term, the non-Jewish victims and Jewish resistance. She was also able to provide trainees with some fantastic resources to use in their teaching and generate some insightful discussions regarding appropriate ways to teach the holocaust at secondary level. A fantastic cross-curricula session!
As part of their Creative Medium Term Planning Module Year 2 Undergraduates work in groups to plan a small Scheme of Work. We then go into a local school and deliver the scheme – in one day – to year 8 pupils. One of the undergraduates, Joe, reflected on the day.
First I would like to thank those involved who placed their trust in us and made it possible for our class to go into the year 8 classroom and present our scheme of work regarding Judaism.
A few months ago we were tasked with completing a group scheme of work that we would teach to year 8 students who had no or limited knowledge of Judaism. Our key focus within our group during the process of planning was the Shoah and thanks to our lectures, visitors and class trips we gained knowledge regarding how the subject should be approached when teaching. Some key points what our group focused on were the promotion of shared values before moving onto the idea of focusing on an individual story during the Shoah that would allow the students to connect more with the material when considering understanding and empathy.
Basic outline of scheme:
Basic beliefs and practices and shared values
Diversity within Judaism / challenging anti-Semitism
Shoah 1933 – 1945
Shoah part two
We hoped this scheme would first provide the students with the basics, before allowing them to explore the diversity within Judaism to challenge and negative stereotypes and myths. Next we would connect this to the idea that the Nazi Party rose to power presenting negative stereotypes and myths regarding Judaism and this is why it important to recognise and challenge these ideas. Finally we would enable to students to evaluate the importance of the previous lessons and why it is important to remember past events.
So….. How did it go I hear you ask?
Well on arrival as you can see from some of our faces, the plan changed a little. The lessons we had planned would have to be adapted, since there was a high possibility students would not necessarily be the same for each lesson. Straight away this created a problem since each of us planned to be teaching the same students one scheme of work allowing the lesson to flow and connect learning from each. Even though, this was a shock and essentially a problem it was also a blessing in disguise, because it made each of us revise our initial planning on the spot and adapt it were necessary, which we were assured sometimes can and will happen in school.
However the day overall was a success each of us gained valuable experience and confidence before beginning upon our Year 2 Placement.
A few things that went well and key lessons learnt for the future:
Preparation is key.
Making sure the student had the equipment and things as simple as pens and paper are essential in order to complete the tasks is essential. From my first placement I was advised always put every little thing on the lesson plan and make sure this is ready and available. This advice ensured each lesson during the day ran smoothly and the students began starter tasks as soon as they walked through the door. I observed and helped as a teaching assistant in one lesson and there was no paper in the classroom and this resulted in the lesson getting off to a rocky start and it was difficult to gain control of the class again. This was simply down to lack of organisation, since when teaching the same pupils in the next lesson, on arrival I had a starter task on the board and individual sheets laid out and they began straight away and it was like a completely different class. Therefore, an organised start with a stimulating starter task is essential, you have to keep them busy and give them no time to wait.
Talk Time/ Activity Time.
I admit sometimes I want to say so much I need to consider the balance between me talking and the pupils doing activities. However, there was only really one lesson were I felt I had to do this more and it was the introduction to the Shoah I wanted to give them a good understanding of the events that during 1933-1939. A way that I found effective to do this without the students switching off to me droning on was to give them a work sheet with information boxes with blanks to fill and arrows which they had to follow in connection with the slides. This worked well and all the pupils seemed engaged and completed the sheet whilst asking questions. This was evident since sadly I did make a mistake in one box and the students picked up on it straight away, therefore they had to have been listening. To get around this I told them that it was a test to make sure they were listening, I think most believed me.
I understand that my questioning techniques need improving when trying to engage a full class discussion, however throughout the day the discussion generally went well and comment were made by teachers who said certain pupils who don’t generally get involved were engaged and participated.
Overall I believe the day was a success for all of us, we all survived a full day of teaching and for me personally a key observation was that the second they walk through the door if your starter task is stimulating and organised you are off to a winner.
Just prior to the Christmas Holidays, the Second Year, RE undergraduates visited the National Holocaust Centre near Newark on Trent in Nottinghamshire. This was a first visit for Edge Hill University but proved to be well worth the journey.
Our visit began with an introductory talk and a tour of the ground floor which was set out like a traditional museum with artefacts and factual information.
However for me personally, the afternoon was the highlight of the day. Firstly we were very privileged to meet Janine Webber who shared her experiences of growing up as a Polish Jew after the German army occupied her native Lwow in 1941. Janine now aged 81 shared her truly harrowing story of how her Parents, Grandmother and younger brother were murdered by the Nazis. How she was betrayed by people who had promised to care for her and how she lived in a hole without seeing daylight for a year.
If anyone had any right to be angry or bitter it was Janine but she was an incredibly, spirited, warm and forgiving person who seemed to bear no hatred or malice towards those who had caused her such pain. She said her only feeling was one of sadness.
The second part of the afternoon was spent in part of the centre that had been set up to follow the experiences of Leo, a fictional German-Jewish boy living in Berlin during Nazi rule. The Journey is the first exhibition to be built in the UK, solely for the teaching of the Holocaust to primary-aged children. Leo’s story unfolds in a series of rooms, which not only detail Leo’s experience but also that of children who lived during the Holocaust and survived.
Although designed for Primary school children we all found it a moving and inspirational experience.
The Holocaust Centre is a peaceful oasis in the heart of the Nottinghamshire countryside that allows visitors to reflect sensitively on the Holocaust. I would wholeheartedly recommend a visit to anyone who is engaged in teaching or learning about the Holocaust.
To find out more visit the Holocaust Centre website
Dr Mayer Hersch MBE paid his annual visit to Edge Hill University to tell gathered RE and History ITE students together with pupils from a number of parternship schools the story of his survival during the darkest days of the Nazi regime.
Mayer was only 13 when the Nazis invaded his homeland Poland and his epic story of survival against the odds, including slave labour, Auschwitz, death trains and marches had all listeners on the edge of their seats – as it has done for many years. Mayer was awarded and honourary Doctorate last year by Edge Hill and received an MBE in the New Year’s Honours list in recognition of his work.
Following a lunch break pupils from a number of partner schools were helped to reflect on Mayer’s story by working with Edge Hill PGCE students. There responses and their questions were deep and insightful. We all hope that Mayer will once again return to Edge Hill next year.
For the last three years the second year KS 2-3 RE Trainees have attended the Autumn Holocaust Conference at the Imperial War Museum of the North. The Conference is organised jointly between the Museum and the Centre for Jewish Studies at Manchester University. As part of their Judaism studies the conference give a unique and valuable opportunity for our trainees to explore different aspects of the Holocaust.
This year the theme was Hiding, Flight and Rescue under Nazi occupation.
Scholars from Britain, Europe and the USA presented their research on how despite the odds some European Jews managed to survive the relentless onslaught of the Nazis.
Perhaps the highlight of the day was hearing the personal witness of Lady Milena Grenfell-Baines who shared her memories of the Kindertransport and her escape from Czechoslovakia as a nine year old with her younger sister. Despite the great odds stacked against her family, once she and her sister were settled in Britain, she was reunited with her Father and then later her Mother who had managed to escape through Sweden.
An inspirational day that brought home the complexity of the human responses to the Holocaust and of the power of the human spirit to endure the most dreadful persecutions and yet not be crushed. As always following days like this I was left pondering what I would have done if faced with such persecution and hatred?