World Café: How can we bring Remembrance Education to the classroom?

Alicia Rijlaarsdam EUROCLIO, Project Updates ,

In January and February 2021, EuroClio hosted the ‘Lest We Forget’ webinar series. In four sessions we focused on networking, practices and the relevance of remembrance education. The series was based on the RETHINK project. This article gives a brief reflection of the last session of the ‘Lest we forget’ series; the World Café focused on ‘How can we bring Remembrance Education to the classroom?’.

History education is learning about the past, while remembrance education is learning from the past

In the first discussion round, participants shared insights on the meaning and importance of Remembrance Education. Remembrance education was defined as developing critical thinking about the past while avoiding polarisation and drawing on a multiperspectivity approach. The need for connection and relevance to history curricula was emphasized while also managing feelings of both teachers and pupils in a constructive and positive manner. An educator mentioned that the younger generations are often far removed from realties of war, it is therefore important to remember to enliven difficult histories. Remembrance Education can be a tool to help students speak about difficult issues and to make events more tangible. It may help bring forth not only a national but also an individual identity as Remembrance Education helps with creating generational bonds or more broadly, meaningful connections between past and present. The role of teachers for Remembrance Education is multifold. Educators can help develop critical thinking and memory building as well as assisting in understanding more recent atrocities. Educators can help students realise dehumanisation was not only limited to the Holocaust, but has happened in many forms in many places.

Silence is a natural response to sensitive topics. People prefer to be silent rather than dare discuss controversial or unpleasant topics. However, when an entire generation can go without knowing what happened, silence becomes harmful to society and specifically to classrooms

Participants shared many reasons as to why it is hard to remember. Tensions may arise between narratives in the classroom and that of student’s family members. This can be related to generational differences but also to historical amnesia, the act of forgetting historical events. Students may look at the past through the eyes of the present as contemporary films, games and media may misrepresent historical events leading to apathy and desensitisation. Educators might be faced with a wide range of emotions from students. Students may react emotionally, show apathy, assign blame to others or become angry when faced with Remembrance Education.

Every perspective has blind spots. Only by changing your perspective can you see what you were blind to

After having identified obstacles, we discussed tips and tricks for educators when it comes to Remembrance Education. One of the main tools when dealing with apathy from students is to sensitise students to traumatic histories and experiences. This can be done by site visits, by the use of primary sources such as video-testimonies and diaries or by personal visits from survivors. Emphasizing ordinary experiences and feelings will help make Remembrance Education more relatable. Key is to open up dialogue, possibly through mediation, and involve the audience. One of the teachers mentioned Schindler’s List, the use of film can assist in airing dialogue. Educators may need to compromise with institutional or political pressures. Preparation and debriefing are crucial when talking about atrocities and genocides. A visit to Auschwitz for example should be paired with preparation beforehand and with a reflection afterwards as not to be overwhelmed by experiencing a traumatic history. A network of educators who are teaching traumatic histories to manage such emotions can also be helpful.

The focus of educators should be on teaching human values, not sole facts

This sentiment has come forward throughout the ‘Lest we forget’ webinar series. The opening lecture was given by Peninah Zilberman. As a child of Holocaust survivors, she talked about the inherent obligation to ‘Remember’. In particular, Peninah Zilberman confronted participants with issues, myths and responsibilities children of survivors inherit from their parents. The obligation to remember comes with difficulties and can be addressed using a multiperspective approach. In the workshop ‘Multiperspectivity in Remembrance Education’ we discussed the difference between memory and history and the use of various methods to explore differences with students in a way that respects their feelings and does justice to history. The use of video-testimonies in the classroom can be a tool to give voice to the stories of survivors of atrocities. In the workshop ‘the use of video testimonies in Remembrance Education', the genesis of video-testimonies was discussed as well as practicalities as where to find video-testimonies and understanding their potential for a learning environment.

EuroClio would like to thank the speakers and participants of the ‘Lest we forget’ webinar series and in particular the participants of the ‘World Café’ for sharing their experiences and insights on Remembrance Education.

Would you like to know more about the RETHINK project, it’s teachers guide, or the network created? Have a look at our project page. As part of the ‘Lest we forget’ series, EuroClio has created a resource booklet for all participants. Would you like to receive it as well? Send an email to alice@euroclio.eu.

World Café: how can we bring Remembrance Education to the classroom?

Additional information on the World Café will be coming soon.

During the World Café, participants will discuss Remembrance Education experiences across Europe, focusing in particular on practical tips and tricks from teacher to teacher. The session will have the structure of a series of thematic and guided discussion groups, in which participants will first reflect on why does Remembrance Education matter, moving then on to obstacles they face in the classroom, and finally presenting practical tips and tricks.

Each room will produce detailed notes, which will be used by EuroClio to create an handout on Remembrance Education in the classroom which will be made available on the website.

Participation to this workshop is free of charge.

The Lest we Forget webinar series:

This keynote lecture is part of the Lest we Forget webinar series. You can find more information on the series, including a concept note and the complete programme, at this link.

There is no preparation needed to join this session. However, we invite you to have a look at the RETHINK Teachers’ Guide on Remembrance Education, which you can find at this link: https://rethink-education.eu/teachers-guide/, and at the RETHINK eLearning Platform for Educators, available for free at this link: https://rethink-education.eu/elearning-platform/

Using Video Testimonies in Remembrance Education

Working with historical sources has become a key element of history education. A still rather innovative way to include such sources into history education is working with video-testimonies. Such personal narratives are a powerful tool when it comes to enabling students to understand the impact that historical events have on individuals, communities, and society as a whole. Video-testimonies of victims of National Socialism in particular have proven to be a quite useful tool in the prevention of antisemitism. The inclusion of such sources into pedagogical practice thus has become a very fruitful approach especially regarding the issue of National Socialism and the history of the Holocaust in particular.

At the end of this workshop, you will:

  • understand the genesis of video-testimonies of victims of National Socialism.
  • know how you can gain access to video-testimonies.
  • have developed an understanding of the potential of video-testimonies as a source for teaching about the Holocaust.
  • know how they can put video-testimonies to use in a learning environment.

Participation in this webinar is free of charge.

The Lest we Forget webinar series:

This keynote lecture is part of the Lest we Forget webinar series. You can find more information on the series, including a concept note and the complete programme, at this link.

This workshop is partially based on the RETHINK Teachers’ Guide on Remembrance Education, which you can find at this link: https://rethink-education.eu/teachers-guide/

In addition, we invite you to check out the RETHINK eLearning Platform for Educators, available for free at this link: https://rethink-education.eu/elearning-platform/

Multiperspectivity in Remembrance Education

Multiperspectivity as a concept has become increasingly mainstreamed in history education across Europe. With multiperspectivity we use the definition offered by Dr. Robert Stradling in the Council of Europe publication ‘Multiperspectivity in history teaching: a guide for teachers’. We mean providing a diversity of sources and different perspectives on a certain issue, and having your students analyze how the different perspectives relate to each other and recognize that each perspective is part of something bigger: a more complex but also more complete picture.

At the end of this workshop, you will :

  • Understand the difference between memory and history.
  • Understand the factors that help explain why people assign different meanings to the same historical events.
  • Be able to apply various methods to explore these differences with your students in a way that respects their feelings and does justice to history.
  • Know examples that address historical inaccuracies, controversies, instrumentalisations and conflicts over the past in a thoughtful way.
  • Be able to help your students to define their own position and identity within the fabric of different memories.

Participation to this webinar is free of charge

The Lest we Forget webinar series

This workshop is part of the Lest we Forget webinar series. You can find more information on the series, including a concept note and the complete programme, at this link.

This workshop is partially based on the RETHINK Teachers’ Guide on Remembrance Education, which you can find at this link: https://rethink-education.eu/teachers-guide/

In addition, we invite you to check out the RETHINK eLearning Platform for Educators, available for free at this link: https://rethink-education.eu/elearning-platform/

Lest we forget – a webinar series on Remembrance Education

About the Webinar Series

If you asked a hundred people what remembrance education is, you’d get a hundred different answers. What all these answers seem to agree on, however, is that remembrance education is about learning from the past. But how can we bring Remembrance Education to the classroom without jeopardising the complexity of the matter at hand? and what is our role as teachers when it comes to Remembrance Education?

We will tackle this and other key questions during our webinar series “Lest we forget”.

This webinar series is based on the project RETHINK, and will provide participants with opportunities to discuss what is Remembrance Education as well as share valuable tips and tricks on how to effectively bring remembrance education in the classroom.

The webinar series will follow this programme:

Participation to the webinar series is free of charge.

Additional information

Part of the webinar series will be based on the RETHINK Teachers’ Guide on Remembrance Education, which you can find at this link: https://rethink-education.eu/teachers-guide/

In addition, we invite you to check out the RETHINK eLearning Platform for Educators, available for free at this link: https://rethink-education.eu/elearning-platform/

For additional information on the project or on the webinar series, don’t hesitate to reach out to Alice Modena at alice@euroclio.eu, or to Catherine Savitsky at catherine@euroclio.eu.

Remembrance, Memory & Observance: Reflections of a daughter of Holocaust Survivors

Hosted by Peninah Zilbermann, Tarbut Foundation

As a child of Holocaust survivors, Peninah Zilberman will be talking about the inherent obligation to “Remember”, “To Tell the Story – Never Forget-Never Again”. In particular, she will confront participants with some of the issues, myths, and responsibilities children of survivors inherited from their parents.

About Peninah Zilberman and Tarbut Foundation

Born in Israel to survivor parents from Romania – Sighet Maramures and Bucharest, Peninah ,served the Toronto Jewish Community for over 40 years in various capacities Jewish educator, Holocaust Museum Director and Adath Israel Synagogue Sisterhood President.

She is an active memebr of the Romanian Forum at the Bar -Ilan Univeristy, the Institute of Romanian Culture in TLV, and has a monthly column about Romanian Jewish Heritage in the Romanian weekly Magazine”The Messenger Everywhere”

In 2014 Ms. Zilberman initiated, the “70th Anniversary to the Sighet Jewish Deportations” in cooperation with the local Municipality and Sighet Jewish Community followed by All Generations Gatherings in 2015, 2017 and 2019, attracting over 1000 participants worldwide.

In 2014, “Fundatia Tarbut Sighet- Cultura si Educatie Iudaica” – “Tarbut Foundation- Culture and Iudaica Education” (FTS) was established. FTS is a member of AEJP- “European Association for the Preservation and Promotion of Jewish Culture & Heritage”. FTS, mission is to assist All Generations with their Genealogy research and organizing “Family Roots Journeys”; at the same time FTS provides Holocaust programs to the local high schools and across Romania through Culture and Arts.

Participation to this webinar is free of charge

The Lest we Forget webinar series:

This keynote lecture is part of the Lest we Forget webinar series. You can find more information on the series, including a concept note and the complete programme, at this link.

RETHINK 3rd Consortium Meeting

The 3rd Consortium Meeting is a closed meeting to reflect upon the upscaling work package. It includes  a presentation of the Advisory Board’s meeting and feedback, as well as a presentation on the integrating the results phase two of upscaling into the Handbook: An educator’s guide to remembrance education. The meeting will also discuss dissemination.

RETHINK Work Package 2 meeting

This is the second of three meetings where the participating membersof Work Package 2 come together. During the meeting the Handbook will be further discussed and developed.

RETHINK 2nd Consortium Meeting/1st Work Package 2 Meeting

Here, two meetings related to the RETHINK project run parallel – a meeting of the COnsortium members to discuss how overall management and progress of the project is going and the first Work Package 2 meeting. Work Package 2 is one of 6 work packages related to this project and is the main responsibility of EuroClio. During this particular meeting, the main topic of discussion is the Teacher Handbook that this group has to write.

Expert Group Selected for RETHINK project

EuroClio Project Updates

Great news! For the project RETHINK, EuroClio was able to select four participants for the Expert Group for Work Package 2!

Through a call that was spread in the network of EuroClio, almost 20 applications were received. Based on our selection criteria, including experience in teaching in remembrance education, the ability to pilot practices with students, and geographical and gender balance, the following four participants were selected:

  • Dorina Subashi Anglisht (Albania) is a lecturer of Museology, Archaeology, and the Culture Heritage of Albania, at the Department of Tourism of the Faculty of Business, “Aleksandër Moisiu” University (Albania).
  • Martin Liepach (Germany) is a teacher at the European School Liebigschule/Frankfurt in combination with part-time work at the Pedagogic Centre of the Jewish Museum Frankfurt and Fritz Bauer Institut.
  • Nena Močnik (Finland) is a Postdoctoral Researcher at the Turku Institute for Advanced Studies.
  • Paula Cowan (Scotland) is a reader in Education at the University of the West of Scotland, School of Education.

We are very happy to have selected this team that will be able to have a more systemic impact on the formal education sector.

It will be the task of the Expert Group to pilot practices from the partner institutions and other organizations, and to devise a handbook for how to use these practices in other contexts. The Expert Group will eventually consist of twelve experts from eight different countries who are active in the field of formal and informal history, citizenship, and remembrance education.

The Expert Group functions as a bridge between informal and formal education, and therefore consists of individuals from both sectors. The partner institutions will provide eight experts from the informal sector.