Dr. Mary Haas strives to educate her students not only on the events of the Holocaust but how to teach the subject in the classroom. It’s an appropriate topic to consider now as communities around the world commemorate Yom Hashoah, or Holocaust Remembrance Day. West Virginia University students commemorate the Holocaust by reading thousands of names of those who perished. That event is being held at the Mountainlair from noon of April 16 to noon of April 17.
The only course of its kind in the U.S., Haas’ Curriculum and Instruction 615: Issues in Holocaust Education course provides students tools to integrate the Holocaust in their own classrooms by relating it to diverse topics and time periods.
The course is offered completely online, a convenience for both prospective and practicing teachers to gain continuing education.
“It is unique to other course formats in that it is online and it extends for the entire semester while most collegiate Holocaust courses are combined into one to two day seminars,” said Haas, a curriculum and instruction professor in the WVU College of Human Resources and Education. “The duration allows for the examination of many approaches and instructional strategies to Holocaust education.”
Examples of these approaches include art, which is incorporated at the end of the semester by examining and interpreting Holocaust portrayals in art. Science and engineering are included through considering the construction and use of gas chambers, medical experiments, and construction of transportation and roads.
Because of the diverse approaches, teachers of all disciplines can benefit from the course, which will be offered in fall 2012.
“The course helps current and future teachers see that you do not have to just associate the Holocaust with World War II, even though that is the most documented period,” Haas said. “The major assignment is creating a teaching unit with a subject that matches their content area and teaching style, and that allows the students to creatively approach teaching strategies. The Holocaust can even relate to elementary school students by teaching lessons on bullying.”
In addition to a lesson plan, the curriculum also includes analysis of readings and message board discussions.
“I always try to provide good sources that they cannot find on their own. The readings are well-rounded, detailed and cover a variety of perspectives directed to answer specific questions,” Haas said. “The related discussions are a great way for current and future teachers to share their experiences and ideas to gain input about preferred classroom strategies and activities from the resources.”
The course is open to all graduate education students. Non-education graduate students are welcome if they have an interest in educating youth about the Holocaust, but a background in lesson planning is needed to fulfill curriculum requirements.
“The Holocaust is a controversial topic, and not just the debate of whether or not it occurred,” Haas said. “It is emotionally a difficult topic to deal with, especially examples elicited from it like prejudice, bullying and religious persecution.
Because of the nature of the content, it makes them think through the issue from various angles. Some students have experienced these issues, and educators must learn how to handle the situations and how to work with school administrators and parents in those circumstances.”
To register for Curriculum and Instruction 615: Issues in Holocaust Education or for more information, contact Haas at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-293-4386.
CONTACT: Christie Zachary, Human Resources and Education
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