The end of innocence : a literature-based approach to teaching young adolescents about the Holocaust / Karen Shawn
Includes bibliographical references (p. 311-337)
The Holocaust, a watershed in Western civilization, has universal implications; therefore, its story, its significance for today, and its ramifications for the future must be incorporated into public school curricula. The social sciences, however, may present the facts of the Holocaust without providing opportunities for students to make meaning of this information. The English class, on the other hand, as a responsive, literature-based community of readers and writers, provides a logical context for students to learn about and come to terms with this event through a variety of meaning-making activities: reading, writing, discussing, listening, and viewing. This dissertation, a curriculum and a theoretical rationale of methods and materials for teaching the Holocaust to middle-level students, is grounded in theories of adolescent development, which indicate that the stage of early adolescence might well be the most appropriate for introducing the Holocaust; and in theories of learning and curriculum development, which indicate the importance of affording both an appropriate context and a background for learning. Teaching methods include introducing literature related to, but not of, the Holocaust, before the history of the event is presented, as a way of providing points of connection between the world of the Holocaust and the world of today's adolescent; and exploring, through literature, themes of the Holocaust as a way of providing informational scaffolding. Such themes, based on questions universally raised by students, may include "decision-making," "insiders/outsiders," "bystanders", "altruism and moral courage," and "the end of innocence." Methods for determining affective and cognitive goals for teaching and learning are suggested. Materials include an illustrative historical narrative, and excerpts from Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl and numerous other literary selections which exemplify the use of literary text as a point of departure. Current Holocaust curricula, a variety of historical and literary texts and related resources, and sequences for their presentation are examined. An annotated bibliography of books about the Holocaust recommended for young adolescents completes this study.
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