A Poetic Finale
I believe the lesson gives students a chance to be creative. The act of the creation is cathartic. As teachers, we can only guess how studying the Holocaust actually affects our students. I once had a student admit to me that studying the Holocaust gave her nightmares. She loved studying the topic. She often participated in discussions, took pride in her work, and asked a multitude of questions. This was one student who was brave enough to admit to me, via her journal, that it gave her bad dreams. How were other students affected? A creative assignment, whether it is a poem or an art project, allows students to experience a catharsis. Their anxieties and questions can be turned into something, something to be proud of.
I have noticed that this lesson, not to mention a full Holocaust unit, requires time. Although I suggest this lesson can be done in five days, it could easily be stretched to seven. It is difficult for students to align their creative timetables to the teacher’s timetables.
The challenge this lesson presents for me as a teacher is to stay in touch with my students. What music do they listen to? What TV shows did they watch last night? What movies did they see last weekend? I always want to be on the lookout for something that will allow me to make a natural connection between my students’ lives and the lives of the millions of people murdered in the Holocaust.