Yom Hashoah - Knowledge versus Emotion
There are many different approaches to teaching about the Holocaust, and there is some controversy over which approach is the most effective. This program is designed to allow participants to explore and assess the effectiveness of various options for the participants personally. We do not seek to claim that any one approach is objectively better than another, but we would like the participants to consider possible problems associated with using any one approach exclusively.
To analyze different approaches to Holocaust education, in particular - to contrast educating through learning and knowledge with educating via emotion and experience.
1. Photocopy Appendix 1 five times, cut out the different texts and pictures, and scatter them around the room. (Some of these evoke an intellectual response, others - an emotional response.)
2. Ask the participants to each choose a text or a picture which most appeals to him or her.
3. Ask each participant to explain their choice, what it symbolizes to them, and why it is important.
4. Divide their choices into those evoking an intellectual response and those evoking an emotional response - and attach them accordingly to a board divided in half ("intellectual" on one side, "emotional" on the other side).
5. Ask the group to define the difference between the two sides of the board and note the words they use on the board. Basically, you want them to understand that each side of the board represents a way of educating about the Holocaust. One way is through knowledge - for example, learning dates, facts, processes etc. One way is via experience and emotion - for example, personal stories, pictures, movies, visits to concentration camps etc.
6. Read Appendix 2 - from the "Yad Vashem Teaching Guidelines". Do they agree? Why or why not? Encourage the participants to give examples of the Holocaust education they were given. Which teaching techniques did they find effective and which were ineffective? Which kinds of techniques were easiest for the educators to use? Do they agree in principle, to using emotional means of teaching the Holocaust? How should this be done?
7. Optional: Analyze the Washington Holocaust Museum Teaching Guidelines (Appendix 3). Divide the participants into small groups and ask them to choose 3 of the guidelines which they feel are the most important, and to rank them. Each group should them justify their choices to the other groups.
8. Conclude by reading some poetry about the Holocaust.
Also on the WUJS site:
More Yom HaShoah Activities.
Theology of Holocaust Sources
The very basics on Holocaust Memorial Day.
This year's dates for Yom HaShoah can be found in our Jewish Calendar.