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Difficult knowledge : possibilities of learning in holocaust education

Clements, Jane; (2010) Difficult knowledge : possibilities of learning in holocaust education. Doctoral thesis , Institute of Education, University of London. Green open access

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ABSTRACT Within the last two decades, the study in UK classrooms of the Holocaust narrative (that is, the twentieth century events whereby six million Jews and many others perished through Nazi policies) has developed considerably. Reasons given for this are not limited to its importance in European history, but include its use as a stimulus to pupils in considering wider social and moral issues. Both the literature on the subject of Holocaust Education and classroom practitioners cite rationales which include countering racism and encouraging active approaches to citizenship. This is despite existing bodies of knowledge in related fields which indicate that sustained behavioural change among pupils as a result of such lessons is unlikely. Notwithstanding the depressing nature of the subject matter, teachers who are particularly committed to this topic often cite positive responses in the classroom in terms of pupil engagement. The research question addressed in this study concerns what pupils may be learning in these lessons and involves qualitative research carried out mainly in three English secondary schools. Findings suggest that Holocaust Education can help pupils to develop a greater awareness of the nature of humanity and the fragility of social values, including an appreciation of the complexity of making moral choices. The discourse within which the teacher approaches the lessons is a defining factor, but she cannot predict the way in which the pupil will respond. Pupil engagement may enable teacher desires to be fulfilled, while pupils may experience a perception of empowerment, deriving from a sense of partnership with the teacher as they confront 'difficult knowledge' together. While specific aims and objectives set for Holocaust Education are unrealistic, the development of positive classroom relationships and the possibilities for learning experiences may be enhanced.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Title: Difficult knowledge : possibilities of learning in holocaust education
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Publisher version: http://ethos.bl.uk/OrderDetails.do?uin=uk.bl.ethos...
Language: English
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10007361
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