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‘Some say the next big frontier in Holocaust education is the Arab world’

Shulamit Imber of the Yad Vashem Holocaust museum in Jerusalem faces a gargantuan challenge when she goes to work.  As the pedagogical head of the International School for Holocaust Studies at Yad Vashem, she plays an important part in determining how future generations in Israel and around the world learn about the murder of six million Jews by the Nazis and their allies during World War II.
Patterns are designed to capture best practice in a specific domain. Pedagogical patterns try to capture expert knowledge of the practice of teaching and learning. The intent is to capture the essence of the practice in a compact form that can be easily communicated to those who need the knowledge. Presenting this information in a coherent and accessible form can mean the difference between every new instructor needing to relearn what is known by senior faculty and easy transference of knowledge of teaching within the community.
In essence a pattern solves a problem. This problem should be one that recurs in different contexts. In teaching we have many problems such as motivating students, choosing and sequencing materials, evaluating students, and the like.
These problems do recur and in slightly different form each time. Each time a problem pops up there are considerations that must be taken into account that influence our choice of solution. These forces push us toward or away from any given solution to a problem. A pattern is supposed to present a problem and a solution. The problem together with the forces must apply to make that solution beneficial to the problem.
“Historians tell us about the past,” Imber told a group of reporters on a tour of the museum on Monday. “The educator tries to give it meaning.”
The pedagogical model of instruction was originally developed in the monastic schools of Europe in the Middle Ages. Young boys were received into the monasteries and taught by monks according to a system of instruction that required these children to be obedient, faithful, and efficient servants of the church (Knowles, 1984). From this origin developed the tradition of pedagogy, which later spread to the secular schools of Europe and America and became and remains the dominant form of instruction.
Pedagogy is derived from the Greek word “paid,” meaning child plus “agogos,” meaning leading. Thus, pedagogy has been defined as the art and science of teaching children. In the pedagogical model, the teacher has full responsibility for making decisions about what will be learned, how it will be learned, when it will be learned, and if the material has been learned. Pedagogy, or teacher-directed instruction as it is commonly known, places the student in a submissive role requiring obedience to the teacher’s instructions. It is based on the assumption that learners need to know only what the teacher teaches them. The result is a teaching and learning situation that actively promotes dependency on the instructor (Knowles, 1984).
The first use of the term “andragogy” to catch the widespread attention of adult educators was in 1968, when Knowles, then a professor of adult education at Boston University, introduced the term (then spelled “androgogy”) through a journal article. In a 1970 book (a second edition was published in 1980) he defined the term as the art and science of helping adults learn. His thinking had changed to the point that in the 1980 edition he suggested the following: “. . . andragogy is simply another model of assumptions about adult learners to be used alongside the pedagogical model of assumptions, thereby providing two alternative models for testing out the assumptions as to their ‘fit’ with particular situations. Furthermore, the models are probably most useful when seen not as dichotomous but rather as two ends of a spectrum , with a realistic assumption (about learners) in a given situation falling in between the two ends” (Knowles, 1980, p. 43 ).
The andragogical model as conceived by Knowles is predicated on four basic assumptions about learners, all of which have some relationship to our notions about a learner’s ability, need, and desire to take responsibility for learning:
  1. Their self-concept moves from dependency to independency or self-directedness.
  2. They accumulate a reservoir of experiences that can be used as a basis on which to build learning.
  3. Their readiness to learn becomes increasingly associated with the developmental tasks of social roles.
  4. Their time and curricular perspectives change from postponed to immediacy of application and from subject-centeredness to performance-centeredness (1980, pp. 44-45).
Throughout her career, the 56-year-old educator – who comes from a family of survivors – has taught countless teachers and students about the persecution of Jews before and during the war. Last year 1,400 educators came to Jerusalem to take part in seminars she helped put together with other museum officials, and she thinks their hard work is paying off.

History: all secondary schools to have a Holocaust expert

News | Published in TES Newspaper on 10 July, 2009 | By: Adi Bloom
£1.5m national programme will train a teacher from every secondary school in England
Hundreds of schools across the country are to become specialist centres of Holocaust education under a national scheme launched today.
The plan, which will be rolled out in 300 schools, forms part of the new £1.5 million Holocaust education programme run by London University’s Institute of Education.
As The TES revealed in November, the Holocaust Education Development Programme will provide extensive specialist training for 3,500 teachers – one from every secondary in England.
The first cohort of 150 will attend a one-day workshop in London at the beginning of November and a second workshop three weeks later. This will be followed by similar sessions in Liverpool. The training will then be introduced across the country over the next two years.

Students around the world are more knowledgeable about the Holocaust than when she joined the museum in 1986, she said.
“We asked students in America, together with the Anti-Defamation League, to say what they knew about the Holocaust and the lessons they learned from it and we saw there was a rise their knowledge,” she said.
She attributes this rise in part to formal education but also to the place of prominence the Holocaust has in popular culture.
Some say the next big frontier in Holocaust education is the Arab world, an issue Imber said was extremely sensitive.
“The conflict raises many things, it touches directly on many emotions, and some are quick to draw comparisons [between the Arab-Israeli conflict and the Holocaust],” she said. “Some people think Israel became a state because of the Holocaust.”See JP for more
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