ADL PUBLICATION EXAMINES THE QUALITY OF HOLOCAUST EDUCATION
New York, NY, January 4, 1996...How adequately is the Holocaust being taught?
The Holocaust has recently become an integral part of educational curricula
in the United States, but are educators involved with Holocaust studies
truly aware of the subject's many complications? These are some of the
questions raised in the current issue of Dimensions, the journal of the
Anti-Defamation League's (ADL) Braun Center for Holocaust Studies.
In the past, Holocaust studies have received little attention in schools.
Recently, with over 100 resource centers circulating educational material
and the government's increasing involvement in mandating and recommending
Holocaust curricula, the study of the Holocaust has become more widespread.
Experts believe, however, that many educators are not truly aware of or
adequately trained to effectively address problems unique to the subject.
Four scholars address the intricacies of Holocaust studies and the state
of Holocaust education in their articles in the new issue of Dimensions.
Lawrence L. Langer, author and Holocaust educator at Simmons College, writes,
"As we approach the twenty-first century, the need grows for teachers
to achieve a balance between the history of the catastrophe and the various
ways of representing the private ordeals of its victims." He notes
that Holocaust educators "must be willing to confront behavior that
cannot be explained by prior notions of why we do what we do," in turn
inviting students to reevaluate their assumptions about what is "reasonable"
behavior. This, writes Langer, takes flexibility and even courage on the
part of the educator.
Irving Halperin, author and faculty member in the Jewish Studies Program
at San Francisco State University, recognizes that successfully teaching
the Holocaust requires more than just the communication of information,
it requires the achievement of "a warm convergence between heart and
head." In Halperin's article he stresses the necessity of encouraging
students to "seek after the knowledge of what it means to be human
in the highest sense."
As a Holocaust educator, who also prepares others to teach the subject,
Karen Shawn writes about her concern with the lack of training teachers
receive and the indifference of administrators toward Holocaust education.
"We need to institute requirements for teacher certification in the
fields of Holocaust history, literature, and pedagogy," said Shawn.
Psychiatrist, Anthony Storr explains the necessity for students to learn
about the origins of anti-Semitism and bigotry which he explores in his
article. "Students need to learn about what I have called the latent
paranoid potential which lurks in the depths of the human mind and which
is all too easily activated by adverse circumstances," said Storr.
The ADL publication also includes a book review section with reviews of
Theo Richmond's Konin: A Quest and John Felstiner's Paul Celan: Poet, Survivor,
Subscriptions to Dimensions are $15 a year, $25 for two years or $9 a copy.
Send check or money order to: Anti-Defamation League, 823 United Nations
Plaza, Box MAE, New York, NY 10017.
The Anti-Defamation League, founded in 1913, is the world's leading organization fighting anti-Semitism through programs and services that counteract hatred, prejudice and bigotry.