Holocaust Education and its Place in Citizenship Education - Zoe Bowden
June 28, 2020
On 27th January countries across Europe and beyond will mark International Holocaust Remembrance Day. January 27th was selected as this was the date the Red Army liberated the infamous former Nazi extermination camp Auschwitz Birkenau. Schools across the country will be marking the event in various ways, last year over 4500 schools took part.
So what links does the Holocaust have with the Citizenship curriculum? Why is Holocaust Memorial Day important and as Citizenship teachers what could we be doing to mark this event?
Well, the final question is the easiest to answer here. There is a range of free resources available from respected Holocaust charities for schools to use covering different age groups and abilities. Whether you are looking for an assembly, reading for form time or a lesson to deliver to your classes they can all be found here:
Other resources can be found, however these two organisations have years of experience and in my view produce materials that are sympathetic and suitable for school curriculums. For those new to teaching the subject it is important to remember that there are certain guidelines to follow which have been developed internationally and provide best practice on the topic. These can be found here:
The Holocaust and Citizenship
There may be some debate within school curriculums and staff rooms regarding where the topic should sit. In the past perhaps the historians would have taken ownership of this topic and delivered it as a historical event, looking at causation and addressing this on a factual basis. Perhaps they would include a discussion of the uniqueness of this episode in a developed country within a democracy (all be it in an early stage) and look at how a country like this could mobilise its political and educated class to have accepted, allow or perpetrate in mass murder. However now leading educational trainers on the topic including the Holocaust Educational Trust and Centre of Holocaust Education agree that this topic should be approached from a multidisciplinary viewpoint. Citizenship has a major role to play within this.
UNESCO has recognised in its work on Global Citizenship Education, a programme dedicated to education about the history of the Holocaust. Through advocacy, research, guidance and capacity-building for education stakeholders from various regions of the world, UNESCO fosters knowledge about the history of the Holocaust and, more broadly, genocide and mass atrocities in ways relevant to particular national and local histories and contexts. Teaching about the Holocaust is encouraged by the United Nations, which emphasizes its historical significance and the importance of teaching this event as a fundamental consideration pertaining to the prevention of genocide. United Nations General Assembly Resolution 60/7 (2005) on “Holocaust Remembrance” urges Member States “to develop educational programmes that will inculcate future generations with the lessons of the Holocaust in order to help prevent future genocides”. The direct link to the development of Human Rights following the events of the Holocaust shows a clear teaching opportunity between this topic and the Citizenship National Curriculum and GCSE specification.
So apart from various clear links to the curriculum and international bodies recommendations why else should we as Citizenship teachers be including this topic in our schemes of work despite time challenges? Recent press coverage shows that the level of antisemitism is growing in Europe. The recent CNN poll illustrates this clearly as does the rise in recorded antisemitic attacks. Then there is the educational research carried out by the Centre for Holocaust Education, which found that 83% of students believed the Holocaust was important to study at school. However only 37% understood the term antisemitism.
However, perhaps the most important element of why we as Citizenship teachers should be focusing on this subject is because the students engage with it, by this I mean really engage with it. I have taught in a range of challenging schools but while teaching this topic students always listen. You can hear a pin drop while a survivor’s story is being told. You can see that for the first time perhaps in their school's lifetime, students are hearing that we do not have all the answers as to why Hitler hated the Jews or why people made the choices they did at the time. UNESCO guidance states that
“Analysing how the Holocaust happened creates multiple opportunities for learners to reflect on their role as global citizens.”
Perhaps one of the most important reasons for including this topic currently is that our current generation of students will be the last to be fortunate enough to hear from a Holocaust survivor and experience which many have described as life changing. The opportunity to engage with an individual who experienced this event which for so many seems so incomprehensible is of vital importance.
In conclusion, I would recommend to any Citizenship teacher who is considering marking Holocaust Memorial Day to do so but actually do more. While attending an assembly on the event for some will allow them to remember these tragic events the real understanding and Citizenship Education will come from the lessons after. The discussions around Human Rights development, justice after the Holocaust, the choices and decisions that were made not only by perpetrators but by those living at the time. I would urge all to take this topic and treat its victims and survivors with respect and dignity and allow future generations to learn valuable lessons from this event in time, which was perpetrated by educated humans living in a democracy to other humans who happened to be of a different descent.
As Kofi Anan in 2010 stated: ‘Because, in our increasingly diverse and globalized world, educators and policy makers believe education about the Holocaust is a vital mechanism for teaching students to value democracy and human rights, and encouraging them to oppose racism and promote tolerance in their own societies.’
Zoe completed a Fellowship in Holocaust Education with the Imperial War Museum and works as an outreach educator for the Holocaust Educational Trust. In addition she is a member of the ACT Council and Associate Trainer for ACT. She has taught and lead Citizenship in schools for over 14 years.
Why is citizenship so important? - Bryden Joy
June 28, 2020
Growing up in Australia, my education never included a subject remotely resembling Citizenship. I was never taught about the structure of the Australian Parliament (it’s bicameral, by the way, but both assemblies are elected), the rights that I have, or even told about how to register to vote. I know of some nearby schools who took a week-long school trip to Canberra to visit the Houses of Parliament, but upon reflection it seems odd that in a country where citizens are legally required to vote in elections, there was no thought to educate children about this civil duty formally.
Australian House of Representatives
I’ve lived in the UK for almost eleven years now, and I remember thinking how interesting Citizenship sounded when I first arrived. I fell into teaching Citizenship and PSHE through a rather naïve conversation with my first headteacher, as I volunteered to lead on the combined subject as it became properly timetabled and staffed.
As I ploughed my way through that first year, I felt like I had found my fit; a subject where I could, among other things, help pupils understand the rights that they have, see how they can make an impact on the world around them, and maybe even learn to get along a little better whilst doing so.
A decade on, I still love what I teach, and the reactions that I get from my pupils. But in the world of school subjects, it still seems like Citizenship is the distant relative that no one really wants to talk about.
Lord Harries of Pentregarth summed it up pretty perfectly a few weeks ago during the House of Lords committee report on Citizenship and Civic Engagement, calling Citizenship a “Cinderella subject”. I find it highly ironic that MPs and the DfE don’t seem to hold Citizenship in higher esteem, considering that it gives them an opportunity to demonstrate the work they do and how it shapes the country. A cynic, perhaps, might suggest that this is exactly why they don’t focus on it.
In some ways, I get the Government’s view; Citizenship isn’t exactly quantifiable in the same way as a Maths test. But neither is an English essay or a Geography report about the erosion of beaches. Surely we need to be looking at the best interests of our pupils – and our wider society – and start educating our young people to be more than just a filled vessel.
I’m fortunate to be working in another school where Citizenship is valued, having moved a few years ago to Hampshire. I’m currently taking my first GCSE Citizenship Studies class through, and am so pleased that I’ve been given the support in developing pupils’ understanding of the world around them.
But it saddens me when I look around and see how few schools around me seem to be doing the same. I wish that more schools would find that lost space on the timetable to give pupils the chance for proper Citizenship lessons, because these schools don’t seem to know what they’re missing out on.
The best Citizenship lessons help to encourage pupils to find their own voice. They engage pupils with our society and foster pride for the communities in which they live. They outrage and frustrate pupils and lead to debates which continue on long after the end of the lesson. They show pupils that it’s okay to disagree about an issue, and that having a civil conversation is more important than resorting to name-calling or petty insults. They help pupils to understand their rights, and to see where injustice continues around the world. They inspire pupils to take action, following in the footsteps of other young people like Malala Yousafzai and the students of Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida.
They lead to pupils engaging in projects within the school and in the wider community, where pupils learn first-hand what can happen when you take a stand or work together to address an issue.
And – possibly most importantly in today’s age – they help pupils to make sense of the world that we’re living in.
In the time that I’ve been away from Australia, they’ve now developed a Civics and Citizenship curriculum to help plug the gaps that existed before. I am hopeful that things will go the same way here in the UK, and that Citizenship will be given the time and attention it needs to make a difference to our pupils’ lives, both today and in the future.
Head of PSHE / Citizenship at a secondary School. ACT Ambassador
Educational Needs must come first - Siobhan Mcmanus
June 28, 2020
Educational achievement will not be a priority or concern for a student who has not had their basic physiological (e.g. food, water, clothing, warmth) or safety (e.g. shelter, security, environmental stability) needs met, at a minimum.
Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs five-stage model highlights how we need these to be met before they can access their higher needs (e.g. education, socialisation, etc).
Therefore, a student who is hungry, sleeps poorly, lives in an unstable environment or feels unsafe in their own home will not have their basic needs met. Consequently, they will prioritise these needs above their education, social behaviour and their future.
These needs not being met can cause disruption in the classroom and if they are failed to be met long-term, it could lead to a perpetual cycle of punishment, despondency towards their teachers and the school system. In some cases it may escalate towards a self-destructive cycle, as the educational systems primary focus and priorities are not in alignment with the students’.
As a former SEN-Teaching assistant at a Personalised Educational Centered (PEC) behavioural school, I have observed that the behaviour of the students' strongly correlated with their home-life. The unsafe and unstable environments they were sent home to daily during the school term and even longer during the holidays seemed to influence their 'poor behaviour' and 'lack of focus' during school hours.
It was further observed that towards the end and the beginning of the return from school holidays, students' behaviour became worse.
I was responsible for the students who were either remove or left their classes. After failing to coerce the children back into their classrooms through reiterating the importance of having an education, I shifted my focus to seeing a child in need instead of a delinquent student.
I went against the school’s correction system of issuing report cards and detention, as the same students were being punished again and again and the students didn’t appear to care. From my experience, there is a lack of communication, or a desire of communication between the teachers, students and parents and an amounting pressure from teachers to get results from unwilling students in a limited time and with a lack of support from senior members in the education system.
It’s important to build a rapport and a trusting relationship with your students, you might be the only adult in their lives that they can trust and confide in. I strongly believe education goes beyond the classroom and more importantly, teachers and support staff need to be supported more so they can support their students.
Teaching Students Business & Enterprise Skills - Karen Reilly
June 28, 2020
Teaching business and enterprise throughout secondary schools encourages students to be inspired, moved and changed by studying a coherent, broad, satisfying and worthwhile course of study. It allows students to gain insight into related sectors such as Economics and Accounting and prepare them to make informed decisions about further learning opportunities and career choices. Moreover, students have the opportunity to develop and apply their knowledge, understanding and skills to contemporary issues in a range of local, national and global contexts. The content studied across the curriculum is designed to engage students through topics and issues that are relevant in today's society, through key contemporary developments such as digital technology, business ethics and globalisation topics.
Business helps students: develop a critical understanding of organisations, the markets they serve and the process of adding value, be aware that business behaviour can be studied from the perspectives of a range of stakeholders acquiring a range of skills including decision-making and problem-solving and, be aware of the current structure of business and business practice. Business introduces students to a range of challenges and issues faced when starting a new business. They will cover the key areas of finance, marketing, HR and operations as well as investigating case studies to see how successful business strategies have been implemented. It is a very diverse subject which develops a broad range of transferable skills within students.
KS5 Business is a two-year course. In the first year, students will develop a critical understanding of organisations, the markets they serve and the decision making process. This includes the consideration of the internal workings and management of organisations and, in particular, the process of improving the performance of each function within the business. In the second year, students will analyse the strategic position of a business and identify effective management strategies to change the direction of the business.
Studying these topics enables students to go on to a range of degree courses including Marketing, Public Relations, Finance and Accounting, Sociology and Law. Many students enjoy the subject so much that they progress to read it at university nationally and internationally. It also helps to give direction to students with regard to future career choices as they gain insight into how organisations are managed, and the different types of departments within them. It is a subject particularly well suited to those who want to pursue a career in banking, marketing, finance or commerce, but the interests and skills required will also appeal to those with an interest in journalism, politics and the law to name but a few.
Enterprise and Careers plays a significant role across the curriculum as it provides students with a greater understanding and awareness of the world they live in. In Business, students are encouraged to develop a range of important skills which are transferable to any walk of life. Narrowing the curriculum will restrict students development of these skills and place greater pressure on future employers to support employees with promoting these vital skills.
Financial Education needs its own bail out
June 28, 2020
WHAT IS THE SITUATION?
Ten years ago, the UK faced a recession so deep, we’re still feeling the aftermath of it, however, there are many lessons that education still does not teach students that it should be if we had fully learnt the lessons of the Financial Crash. Financial Education has recently been gaining pressure in the UK. Ofsted having placed financial education into the curriculum, which has started to increase the teaching of in various forms in different schools, however, we are still not educating our young people enough for their own future financial stability.
SETTING A MINIMUM STANDARD
In terms of the minimum that we should be teaching, the broad areas that we should cover are:
Financial planning (budgeting, expenses)
The stability of the Financial System
When leaving school, students are faced with options, the first one which students face is, the type of current account they need to open. The first problem they are faced with is what are the differences? What’s an overdraft? Do I need an overdraft? Then comes the excitement of a university student, oh wow I can now gain an interest-free overdraft, let’s just take it. However, not fully understanding that they are in fact borrowing, and if that were not a student account, they would have to pay interest on this debt they have now acquired.
For many young people, it is the life lessons that they need to be successful, how much will they be paid? Who is the taxman, what does he do and how much of your money will be taken? Taxes, being that certainty in life, should be an area that all educators are willing and able to talk to every student about. As young people get their first jobs, many of them are unaware how much they should be saving (30% minimum) and how to open a savings account for that rainy day fund, may they need it. As young people progress, if they are not taught the basics of the different products and services offered to them by financial institutions, they are always going to be misinformed and potentially under consume services such as home insurance, life insurance, and over consume products like credit cards and overdrafts.
Naturally, we are concerned about money, be it our motivator, or what we know we need to purely just live the life we want to maintain. Schools need to prepare students for the financial challenges that they will face in their future, with engaging and relevant lessons, activities, using businesses around them to support this.
HOW CAN YOU DO IT?
This can and should be done through effective and up to date financial education which can be delivered through PSHE, Citizenship and Enterprise in KS3 in addition to form tutor periods, assemblies and a cross-curricular approach in other areas of the curriculum. Many schools now run financial literacy courses in KS4/5 and many successful secondary schools have huge numbers of students wanting to take business studies related courses so there is definitely the hunger and want from the students for this type of knowledge and skills
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