Concerning our recent visit to the Oregon Jewish Museum and the affiliated Holocaust Memorial:
As we perused the collection of black and white photographs, meandered down the grey cobblestone path to the memorial wall, and succumbed to the heart-aching memories of Holocaust survivors displayed with clear aluminum lettering, I could not escape the darkness. Neither the bright sun overhead nor the vibrant green trees in the background could lighten the experience. The Holocaust was, and still is, an illustration of the human capacity for depravity. How do we teach 12 to 18 year old students about this significant historical event, which resulted in the deaths of millions? How do we shine a light on this darkness? Where do we shine it?
Some ideas for where and how to shine the light:
- Create a pdf lesson plan that teachers can use to direct their students while visiting the memorial. Include a brief introduction lecture followed by engaging activities. I like the idea of using the jigsaw method to assign students different tasks (i.e. collecting information on a certain quote, or finding the various artifacts placed on the memorial grounds). Later, the students can share their findings with the rest of the class.
- Depending on grade level, focus broadly on the Holocaust (i.e. an overview of event) or, for more accelerated classes, drill down on specific locations (i.e. Chelmno, Treblinka, etc.).
- Create pdf lesson plan(s) for the day(s) leading up to visiting the memorial.
- Create some sort of virtual experience for students and teachers who cannot take a field trip but still want to explore the memorial.
Just some ideas!