UK teachers gather for first Holocaust education seminar

Holocaust Educational Trust gives teachers the chance to develop their understanding.

Holocaust Education (photo credit: Screenshot)
Holocaust Education
(photo credit: Screenshot)
LONDON – Over 100 teachers from across the UK gathered at the Churchill War Rooms in central London on Monday to take part in the Holocaust Educational Trust’s (HET) first ever Teachers’ Summer School.
The daylong seminar gave teachers the opportunity to develop their knowledge and understanding of the Holocaust through a series of lectures and workshops with some of the world’s leading Holocaust scholars.
Speakers included Stephen Feinberg, from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington. He talked about Nazi ideology and the many different victim groups targeted by the Nazis.
Dr. Tom Lawson, reader in modern history at the University of Winchester, spoke about the role of the Church during the Holocaust, and Martin Winstone, author of book The Holocaust Sites of Europe, talked about the lesserknown sites of persecution and highlighted their educational value.
A panel discussion – with Feinberg, HET chief executive Karen Pollock, survivor Ruth Barnett and Ruth-Anne Lenga from the University of London’s Institute of Education – looked at the challenges facing Holocaust education, such as the dwindling number of survivors, and how the HET is responding.
“Today was inspiring and thought provoking, making me mindful of the challenges we face in the classroom and the importance of striving to continually improve and reflect on my practice,” said Amanda Zincraft from All Saints Catholic School and Technology College in Dagenham, Essex. “The importance of looking ‘beyond Auschwitz’ is something I will take with me back to school and work on in conjunction with my colleagues.”
Barnett, who was born in 1935 and is the author of Person of No Nationality, said it is the teachers who carry on the important work of Holocaust education.
“The chance for educators to enter into a dialogue and learn from each other is always important. As a survivor we can reach a few young people, but teachers can reach so many more. We survivors have made the start and teachers will carry this important work on,” she said.
“We were delighted to have such a fantastic turnout at our first Teachers’ Summer School,” Pollock said. “The Holocaust can be a difficult subject to teach, but I hope that the participants will take away with them a fresh, innovative approach to teaching their pupils about this dark period of history.”
Established in 1988, the Holocaust Educational Trust’s aim is to educate young people from all ethnic backgrounds about the Holocaust and the important lessons to be learned for today. The Trust works in schools, universities and in the community to raise awareness and understanding of the Holocaust, providing teacher training, an outreach program for schools, teaching aids and resource materials.
On Tuesday, the HET announced the autumn schedule for its flagship Lessons from Auschwitz Project. Now it its 12th year, the initiative has taken 10,000 high school students and teachers from across the UK to Auschwitz-Birkenau.
The Trust announced it will facilitate six programs between September and November, including two dedicated to Scottish students. The program combines a visit to Poland with orientation and follow-up seminars.
For the final stage of the course, participants design and carry out a Next Steps project in which they pass on what they have learned to their fellow students and peers and in their communities.
“This year the Holocaust Educational Trust passed the significant milestone of taking its 10,000th participant on the Lessons from Auschwitz Project,” Pollock said. “Over the past 12 years, students and teachers from across the country benefited from what can often prove to be a transformative experience.
“We encourage all teachers to ensure their pupils do not miss out on this opportunity by registering their schools to take part in our Lessons from Auschwitz Project in the coming year.”