Guidelines for Teaching
7. Try to avoid stereotypical descriptions
The history of the Holocaust is complex. Teaching the history of the Holocaust is a daunting task given the enormity and speed of the Nazi killing program. As a result of time constraints, teachers sometimes generalize about the Holocaust in such a way as to mislead students into making unfounded generalizations about religious, ethnic, or national groups. Educators should be wary of this potential problem. Here is a discussion from the workshop relating to one such example.
“... but you've got to be careful your kids don't generalize and stereotype ...”
Though all Jews were targeted for destruction by the Nazis, the experiences of all Jews were not the same. Simplistic views and stereotyping take place when groups of people are viewed as monolithic in attitudes and actions. How ethnic groups or social clusters are labeled and portrayed in school curricula has a direct impact on how students perceive groups in their daily lives. Remind your students that, although members of a group may share common experiences and beliefs, generalizations about them, without benefit of modifying or qualifying terms (e.g., “sometimes,” “usually,” “in many cases but not all”) tend to stereotype group behavior and distort historical reality. Thus, all Germans cannot be characterized as Nazis nor should any nationality be reduced to a singular or one-dimensional description.
- 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."