This Toolkit is released as an online beta version. Teachers are invited to share their experiences in using this Toolkit by emailing one of the project contacts.

Teachers’ Practical Tips for the Classroom

The combination of Holocaust Education and Human Rights Education supports teachers in relating educational activities to the learners’ real-life experience and helps teachers to initiate with their students an assessment of their human rights needs and of solutions consistent with human rights standards.

Impart historical knowledge
Understanding historical processes and contexts must serve as a basis for Holocaust and Human Rights Education. Without a careful study of this subject matter, the significance of this historical event as well as the significance of human rights will not provide adequately students with a foundation about why it is important to uphold human rights or learn about the Holocaust.

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Encourage active student participation
Posing and discussing questions should be the overall aim, rather than imposing answers. First you should focus on what happened in the past, and only then proceed to highlight what is happening in the contemporary context. It also needs to be clear that simplified equations of the past and the present can be very dangerous and we have to be very careful not to allow these situations to happen – since it is very easy to fall into this trap

Create an environment for open discussions, allowing for a diversity of opinions
Maintain a good balance between state responsibility and individual responsibility (human rights as a common value and part of a legal framework in society). However, if offensive, racist or discriminatory language, statements or acts are noticed then the teacher has to come out against it. Diversity of opinions does not mean allowing everybody to say everything.

Demonstrate actions that lead to positive changes (for example, the Austrian teacher’s example that she had requested some Grimm stories to be removed from the Internet due to anti-Semitic content or an inhabitant of a flat who negotiated with the municipality to erect a remembrance plaque on  the building).  

Allow at least enough hours of lessons time for each section of the course. Make sure that your organizational framework allows students of different classes can either work on the same topics at the same time or have access to the results of the other groups before they can continue their work. If at all possible, integrate the project within relevant subjects. If such an arrangement cannot be made for practical reasons (students may be from different classes), offer credit to students for participating in the project. Full support of the school director enhances the profile of the activity within school environment.
 
Work in small groups
: The tasks are designed for groups to work together. Each member of the group is responsible for the result of the group as a whole.

Invite a Holocaust Survivor to give testimony
: Whenever possible, students should hear first hand survivors’ personal stories. Inviting a Holocaust survivor to visit your school is a very special opportunity, but if this proves impossible, access recorded versions of personal testimonies online.
Students need to be properly prepared for the testimony of a survivor with information about his/her background (including pre-war details). In addition, they should also be provided with both historical and personal con-text for the testimony.

One of the most important tips for providing Historical Context:

  • Hand out materials about the survivor and his/ her experience.
  • Address with students about what they should or not expect during this testimony.
  • Make students aware that despite the passage of time, it is never easy for survivors to share their painful experiences.


Introduce units: to clearly direct students as well as give them an opportunity to discuss issues in an open forum before giving them assignments.

Clarify different contexts: As students gain more information about this complex subject matter, they will often be interested in researching additional resources and materials.
Underscore with students that the focus of this project should be on the violation of human rights during the Holocaust before the mass exterminations started. Sensitively introduce the topic of the Holocaust and Anti-Semitism gradually, in an interdisciplinary way, encouraging students to reflect about the dangers of xenophobia, racism and Anti-Semitism.  

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Which Examples/ Case Studies are useful?

Focus on Specific Examples of Human Rights Violations during the Holocaust
It is important for the students to consider specific events that violated human rights during the Holocaust and this is best explored through eye witness testimony. For example, Steve Mendelsson arrived in the UK in 1939 as part of the Kindertransport. He speaks vividly to students about his experiences in Germany before he left as well as what happened to him on arrival in this country. His testimony includes descriptions of his feelings of isolation and segregation after he was told he could no longer attend school with his non-Jewish friends. This led students into a discussion focused on related issues such as tolerance and acceptance of minority groups who may often be isolated in contemporary society.

Specific Examples of Human Rights violations during other genocides
:
As mentioned above, it is particularly helpful for the students if they can find specific examples in more recent genocides where human rights were violated before the mass killings began. The experiences of eye witnesses and survivors are particularly important in this context.

Specialist Knowledge:
It is important to note that the teacher who deals with modern genocide cannot be a specialist on all the examples suggested. In order to be able to answer the students on their questions, the member of staff must be prepared to conduct their own research along with their young people and consult reliable sources as recommended in the notes above.

Paired work:
The tasks are designed for pairs to work together, but after the introductory discussions for each unit, it may be appropriate for students to work on their own.
The combination of Holocaust Education and Human Rights Education means also a critical review of every step of an educational activity regarding its coherence with human rights principles (dignity, equality, and freedom), its interactive pedagogical process, its active involvement of the addressees, its participatory character, its furthering of knowledge, its enabling of critical reflection and of corresponding action. This will contribute to the enhance-ment of the transfer of knowledge on the Holocaust and Human Rights Education, as educational processes are achieving higher results when they are coherent with their own message. In the case of Holocaust Education and Human Rights Education especially relevant, because both stand not only for their content but for a certain “way of learning”, it’s not just a way of learning but rather an environment of learning which is related to their content and consistent with the issues they raise. Both share this philosophy of teaching and learning that goes beyond their content and considers the process by which the content is delivered. Both try to enhance awareness, respect, critical thinking, analysis, reasoning, interpretation, reflection and action.

Follow up:
The students involved should be given the opportunity to share their work, responses, ideas and opinions with other students across Europe who are involved in similar projects. An example of a web site for the current pro-ject where students can add their own contributions can be found at: http://htgcivics.wordpress.com/
This methodology and the project can be presented to other teachers or at the occasion of school projects and other joint school activities.

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