The Holocaust in education : an exploration of teacher and learner perspectives.
This study is a qualitative exploration of the perceptions of teachers and learners in their
encounters with the Holocaust. Research and literature on issues related to the Holocaust
in education are limited in scope and in their consideration of 'teaching and learning issues'.
The major concern is what pupils should learn about rather than how they learn. This
means that not enough is currently, known about the impact of the Holocaust on teachers
and learners. Thus,, a Delphi study was undertaken with ten Holocaust educators to
problematise teaching in this area and to consider the preparation necessary for teachers.
The Delphi also explored where learners were expected to struggle and provided a bridge
to the pupil study. Delphi statements on the areas where pupils were expected to struggle
were used as the basis for the pupil questionnaire and focus group interviews. Over a
hundred pupils, aged 14, from four secondary schools in the West Midlands were involved
in the study.
The data collected from pupils made it possible to explore the nature of the impact on these
learners and consider how they were able to utilise their own personal and intellectual
resources to cope with their encounter. Analysis of data was undertaken to detail the areas
of study that were difficult for the pupils in this study.,
This research contributes to knowledge about the impact of the Holocaust upon learners by
exploring the perceptions of educators and using these as a base from which to investigate
pupil understandings. The educators used to problematise the area provided an
international cohort and thus the results of the Delphi study provide a unique 'dialogue' that
goes beyond national boundaries and concerns. This broad base for the pupil study ensured
that the research was not just based within particular national or local concerns about
The research findings support the initial perspective that previous research had merely
scratched the surface of this vast topic by uncovering some of the ways in which the
Holocaust impacted upon pupils. Research findings were set in the context of an
experiential theory of pupil Holocaust learning. The main contribution of this research
study is to provide evidence that 'teaching and learning' in a complex and controversial
area like the Holocaust, must be set upon fine pedagogical foundations. Teachers need to
be prepared for teaching about the Holocaust, and such preparation should be based on an
understandingo f pupil learning in this area