“Auschwitz and the Holocaust — education in school and at the Memorial Site”
The subject of Auschwitz and the Holocaust in school and out of school in the face of changes in the core curriculum was the main theme of the ;“Auschwitz and the Holocaust — education in school and at the Memorial Site,” which was held on the 12-14 April in Oświęcim. It was attended by 80 school teachers and academics from Poland.
It was organised by the International Centre for Education about Auschwitz and the Holocaust and the Pedagogical University in Kraków.
During the plenary sessions and workshops, participants attempted to summarise their experiences in teaching about Auschwitz and the Holocaust over the past 5 years. The sessions focused on the following thematic areas:
- Pedagogy of memorial sites — theory and practice
- Authenticity of the place and the word — accounts and narratives
- Visits to memorial sites: education or tourism?
- Education about Auschwitz and the Holocaust in the face of reform of Polish school curriculum.
“We met to consider how teaching of the Holocaust and Auschwitz appears in a new, reformed school, to consider the risks and chances created by a new core curriculum and discuss the issues of pedagogy in Memorial Sites, educational visits, including the problems of narration and the authenticity of memorial sites,” said Dr Piotr Trojański, academic advisor for the ICEAH. “The discussion shows that in the future, we should put emphasis on visits to memorial sites and reflect on their educational values. The role of schools is decreasing and will continue to decrease. Systemic solutions must be considered and the introduction of visits within the core curriculum, how they can be best organised,” he added.
One of the participants, Robert Szuchta, a history teacher and co-author of the textbook “The Holocaust. Understand Why,” said he had mixed feelings about the introduction of the new core curriculum. “It was announced that teachers will have more hours, and we have 60 hours to carry out the entire recent history. This is approx. 45-50 subjects. On the subject of the Holocaust, I was able to devote two lessons this year, which is the same as it has been. I do not see any change here. This also happens with Polish language lessons. Teaching this subject is extremely superficial,” said Szuchta.
The conference was accompanied by the presentation of new didactic publications:
• Polish version of the European educational package “Preparing for a visit to the Auschwitz Memorial Site — tips for teachers and educators”,
• “Understand the Holocaust. Secondary books to teach about the Holocaust”,
• “How to teach about the Holocaust. A methodological guide for teaching about the Holocaust in the reformed school”.