Guidelines for Teaching
11. Be sensitive to appropriate written and audiovisual content
“Please don't start your class out with a horrific image.”
One of the primary concerns of educators teaching the history of the Holocaust is how to present horrific images in a sensitive and appropriate manner. Graphic material should be used judiciously and only to the extent necessary to achieve the objective of the lesson. You should remind yourself that each student and each class is different and that what seems appropriate for one may not be appropriate for all.
Students are essentially a “captive audience.” When you assault them with images of horror for which they are unprepared, you violate a basic trust: the obligation of a teacher to provide a “safe” learning environment. The assumption that all students will seek to understand human behavior after being exposed to horrible images is fallacious. Some students may be so appalled by images of brutality and mass murder that they are discouraged from studying the subject further. Others may become fascinated in a more voyeuristic fashion, subordinating further critical analysis of the history to the superficial titillation of looking at images of starvation, disfigurement, and death. Though they can be powerful tools, shocking images of mass killings and barbarisms should not overwhelm a student’s awareness of the broader scope of events within Holocaust history. Try to select images and texts that do not exploit the students’ emotional vulnerability or that might be construed as disrespectful of the victims themselves.
- Welcome and Introduction
- Before you start teaching
- 1. Define the term ‘Holocaust’
- 2. Contextualize the history you are teaching
- 3. Translate statistics into people
- 4. Strive for precision of language
- 5. Avoid simple answers to complex history
- 6. Just because it happened does not mean it was inevitable
- 7. Try to avoid stereotypical descriptions
- 8. Strive for balance in establishing whose perspective informs your study of the Holocaust
- 9. Make careful distinctions about sources of information
- 10. Do not romanticize history to engage students’ interest
- 11. Be sensitive to appropriate written and audiovisual content
- 12. Select appropriate learning activities
- 13. Reinforce the objectives of your lesson plan
- 14. Avoid comparisons of pain
- Topics to Teach
- Sample Lessons
- Guest Lecture: Dr. William Meinecke Jr. discusses the topic "Nazi Ideology and Victims of the Holocaust and Nazi Persecution."