Today began the 2011 Summer Institute for teachers. We are very lucky to have another great group of teachers, who bring a variety of backgrounds and teaching styles to our seminar. This week will include intense learning and discussion of the many facets of Holocaust studies, and give our Lerner Fellows new ideas on how to teach this complicated topic in the classroom.
Our first day began with a fantastic lecture from Professor John Roth, who talked about Jews, Christians, and anti-Semitism, a lecture that laid the groundwork for the topics discussed throughout the week. His discussion reinforced the idea that many factors were necessary for the Holocaust to happen, and reminded all of us of Raul Hilberg’s eternal idea that there is no finality to the study of the Holocaust.
As in years past we had the pleasure of hearing from Columbia Professor Dr. Volker Berghahn, who discussed the Interwar period in German history. This historical time period is critical to understanding how the Nazis rose to power. We are so lucky that Professor Berghahn continues to be a mainstay at our Summer Institute.
After each lecture, participants broke into discussion groups, where teachers were able to synthesise the lecture and share ideas as to how to teach the subject matter in the classroom.
Groups presented to each other, and each group was able to contribute new pedagogical tools and interesting food for thought.
This year we had a new first-day addition: Alexandra Zapruder presented on her book Salvaged Pages, which contains diaries and diary excerpts from Jewish children who were persecuted during the Holocaust. Alexandra discussed how to use her book as a teaching tool in the classroom. Using these diaries can be the key in opening up the discussion of Holocaust to young people, were the Holocaust is accessible to students when understood through the words of age peers.
We concluded our first day with an opening dinner at Columbia’s Faculty House Restaurant, where we got a chance to get to know one another on a more personal level.
Stay tuned for posts on the Institute!