British teachers attend Yad Vashem education class

Course aims to provide educators with tools to improve their ability to teach about the Holocaust.

yad vashem 248.88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
yad vashem 248.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
A group of teachers from across the UK began an intensive eight-day program of Holocaust education at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem this week. Organized by the Holocaust Educational Trust (HET) and Yad Vashem, the course will provide the teachers with the necessary tools and experience to support and improve their knowledge of Holocaust education. The 22 teachers participating were chosen for the course after submitting applications that reflected on the importance of Holocaust education and its impact on their students. They represent a variety of backgrounds and denominations and teach a range of subjects, including history, humanities, sociology, English, religious education and citizenship. During the course the teachers will attend lectures and workshops led by some of the world's leading Holocaust scholars on subjects such as anti-Semitism, the universal lessons of the Holocaust and other genocides, and efforts to bring Nazi war criminals to justice. Participants will also hear personal testimony from Holocaust survivor Esther Shlesinger and will have the opportunity to make use of the all the facilities at Yad Vashem. HET educators are also providing pedagogical workshops for the teachers, with a focus on teaching the Holocaust within the framework of the UK National Curriculum. The group will also have the opportunity to visit some of Israel's historic sites including Masada and the Dead Sea. "Teaching the Holocaust is something you have to get right," said Alison Clark, head of Humanities at Woodhouse Business and Enterprise College in Staffordshire. "Those who lost their lives during the Holocaust do not have a voice and as a teacher it is my responsibility to continue to tell their story. As Head of Humanities it is important for me to implement Holocaust education as a whole school initiative so that all students will benefit." "To be educated on how to teach an event of such awful magnitude in a sensitive, informed and age-appropriate manner is a great privilege," Denver Charles, history teacher at Magharafelt High School in Northern Ireland, commented. "The fact that this course also aims to provide you with further academic grounding in these areas is a real bonus. The course is second to none in my opinion." "We are proud of our work in partnership with Yad Vashem to design this programme specifically for British teachers," said Karen Pollock, HET's chief executive. "Each of our participating teachers has demonstrated a real commitment and motivation to developing their skills in the field of Holocaust education and I am confident that they will return to the classroom committed to delivering what they have learnt." Established in 1988, the HET works in schools, universities and in the community to raise awareness and understanding of the Holocaust. One of the trust's earliest achievements was to ensure that the Holocaust formed part of the National Curriculum for History in UK schools. Today, it plays a leading role in training teachers on how best to teach the Holocaust, providing teacher training, an outreach programme for schools, teaching aids and resource materials.