Volume:4, Issue: 3

Dec. 15, 2012

In This Issue
A Letter to the Readers
Tsyrlina-Spady, Tatyana [about]
Dear friends, colleagues, faithful readers, and new visitors to our website: I am happy to inform you that the journal is steadily growing, and the number of those who is curious about Russian and American educational heritage and present day issues is over 25,000 which is an achievement by itself. Though we have a few “blank spots” on the map – in parts of South America and Africa – but 114 countries send us readers which keeps our hopes high and helps to create meaningful plans for the future. At the risk of sounding too enthusiastic, I still believe that this journal issue is very special in terms of its emotional strength, quality of articles, expertise of authors, and the overall importance of the topic. You would be wrong to conclude that we are going to discuss Russian school reforms, new State Educational Standards, or Unified State Exams, though we do not deny their significance. In contrast, we are trying to touch upon deep and subtle layers of character formation and moral education of our youth, allude to the mystery of human nature, and present the topic which was for a long time avoided in Russian society, and until recently, never discussed in Russian schools. I am sure, you got the clue – we are talking about the Holocaust and Holocaust education.
Konstantin Nikolayevich Ventsel: Advocate for the rights of free children
Boguslavsky, Mikhail V. [about]
The intrinsic part of the Russian national spirit has always been aspiration for perfection, a strong desire to waive good and real for the sake of perfect (though abstract), which quite often resulted in something completely opposite to what was originally expected. The best example of such Russian type in education was Konstantin Nikolayevich Ventsel (1857-1947, recorded in the parish register as Konstantin Romeo Alexander), the second after Leo Tolstoy, most outstanding Russian theoretician and practitioner of liberal education. During his almost century-long life, Ventsel experienced, together with Russia, both the country’s rare days of happiness and decades of trials and tribulations. Ventsel’s life represents the immense depth and magnitude of ideas he developed. Through many years, the pedagogue and humanist was ardent in his struggle against all types of spiritual oppression, striving for complete liberation of human personality, so that any individual could achieve highest dignity and happiness. Konstantin Ventsel’s contemporaries wrote that he was constantly busy: he kept speaking, acting, and writing not exactly what was up to date or expected of him – as if he was not of this world. But in reality, those were his contemporaries who were not up to date. Indeed, with his profound, long endured and unbending truth Konstantin Ventsel outshined senseless cruelty and opportunism of traditional pedagogy; he tore off all kinds of masks.
The Mystery of Goodness
Locke, Hubert G. [about]
Almost three quarters of a century have passed since the earth-shattering events that we know as the Second World War took place. After so much time has transpired, it is probably not surprising to find that various and sundry scholars have begun to take a second – and in some instances, a third and fourth – look at that period and are finding that some of our early or initial conclusions about people and circumstances of that era may not quite be what we thought. We Americans have long pictured ourselves, for example, as the grand heroes of that epic struggle. Even though America entered WWII over two years after it began, we like to think of America’s entry as the tipping-point in the conflict, with the defeat of Germany hinged to the invasion of Europe in June 1944. But the British historian Norman Davies points out that equally, if not more, critical battles were taking place on the eastern front where the German and Soviet armies collided. And, he notes, while the U.S. lost 143,000 soldiers in the fight against Germany, the Soviet Union lost eleven million.
Walking in Shoes Never Worn: Personalizing Holocaust and Genocide Studies
Jensen, Kimberly J. [about]
The Holocaust looms formidably in history not only for its sheer magnitude, but also for its testament to man’s capacity for absolute evil. It represents what happens when individual prejudices and animosity are manipulated into a collective hatred. More importantly, the Holocaust signifies what happens when individuals act passively in the face of seemingly “minor” injustices (Wiesenthal, 1969/1998). It reminds us that culpability rests in the hands of ordinary citizens, not just the men (and women) who hold seats of power. The reality is that the Holocaust represents each and every one of us: past, present, and future. Alkalaj (1998) argues that each individual must accept responsibility for genocide by “remember[ing] that each and every victim is one of the collective us” (p. 104, original emphasis). The only way to prevent genocide is to recognize its antecedents: individual and societal vilification of “the Other.” As educators, we have a responsibility to educate our students morally and reflectively (Dewey, 1933; Kohlberg, 1976; Purpel, 2010; Volf, 2011). However, this endeavor requires teachers who are dedicated to truth and are willing to stand up against faddish rhetoric that discriminates and alienates.
Exploring Difficulties in Teaching Holocaust Education, and an Explanation of Classroom Practices to Overcome These Difficulties
Boyer, Eric S. [about]
Holocaust education is an education rooted in life. It is an education critical to an understanding of what it means to be alive and part of a humanity that seeks to make sense of its place within the larger historical framework. The website created by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum cites ten reasons why the Holocaust should be an integral part of any social studies curriculum, and they are all rooted in the notion that to help us all make sense of this watershed moment in history, we must begin with an understanding of what it means to be human, and more broadly, what it means to be moral within an increasingly diverse and multi-cultural humanity. Reason number eight for studying the Holocaust stated by the website is that “Thinking about these events can help students to develop an awareness of the value of pluralism and encourages acceptance of diversity in a pluralistic society” (www.ushmm.org/education).
Reading History: Hedgehogs and Foxes
Roden, William J. [about]
Hughie said our WWI American Doughboys arrived in France carrying broomsticks. I was nine or ten and he – an Irish veteran of the Great War. He fought in a decorated British unit, the Royal Irish Rifles, a regiment with a history going back several hundred years and still in action abroad. Born in Ireland in 1896, Hughie was a welder who worked on the construction of the Lusitania and witnessed Harry Houdini being locked in a sealed container and dropped over a bridge in his hometown of Belfast. As an infantryman, young Hugh saw the German war ace, nicknamed the Red Baron, in his bright red, tri-winged fighter plane with his Flying Circus while Hugh hid under a shattered tank. He said he always knew when a soldier was dying when he asked for a cigarette. I grew up with a somewhat skewed view of this small part of history. There was no discussion about general or global causes of the War, just Hughie’s resentment that the Americans arrived two years too late with substandard weapons. His unit had been up to their knees in mud in France since 1914. We did not get there until two years later.
“Culture of memory” as a precondition to develop tolerance: a phenomenon of Holocaust and instructional process of Holocaust Education in Russian schools
Kamenchuk, Irina L. [about], Listvina, Eugenia V. [about]
One should always reflect on the past and consider the future both objectively and subjectively. This dual approach will enable an individual to understand how, on what grounds, and why the past is perceived and interpreted in a particular way. History should always live in our memory. It acts as a guide in our thinking and ideas, and should lead to soul searching. History also acts as a mechanism to determine what is a useless waste of time and what is worthy of pursuit. No human being, no society or culture, can survive without keeping its memory alive and active. A culture of memory is a very valuable part of one’s overall culture, and it is also a solid basis for developing tolerance. Snkhchyan, a student from the small town of Burny in the Engels district of the Saratov region, who won the international contest “Memory of the Holocaust is a Way to Tolerance!” poignantly wrote, “When people devoid themselves of any memories of kindness and mercy, when they coldly pass by somebody’s pain or injustice, they immediately open the door to evil, violence, and hatred. This is the way to kill the best in our hearts. Evil and indifference allowed into our souls will always play back against us.”
Washington State Holocaust Education Resource Center
Kennedy, Ilana Cone [about]
I work at the Washington State Holocaust Education Resource Center in Seattle (http://www.wsherc.org/). My daily language consists of the most obscene of numbers of concentration camps, death, suffering, and incredible personal miracles. I am just beginning my tenth year as the director of education. When I tell people where I work, I am often met with looks of pity or silence, and then a change of subject. “Isn’t that depressing?” is the most frequent question I receive. Until recently, I would answer that I am inspired daily by the educators with whom I work. The teachers in our schools who teach this subject — a subject that is not required or mandated — are creative, insightful, and motivated. Ten years later, I am only more impressed by their efforts and determination. However, my answer to the question has changed. The gravity of the Holocaust — of any and all genocides — is severe. The depth of human suffering is beyond description. This tragedy did not end in 1945, but continues in the survivors’ memories, in their children, and in new generations of survivors of more recent genocides. As I type this, there are at least four places in the world on the brink of genocide. No one should suffer so extremely at the hands of another person or group of people. No one.
Holocaust Education in Southern California: Instructional Perspectives and Resources
Pierson, Melinda R. [about], Maresca, Katie [about]
Few teachers doubt the importance of teaching seminal events in history and many embrace the opportunity to create moral discussions with their students – especially at the secondary level. However, teaching the Holocaust and the specific lessons that can be learned from such a delicate subject are not always easy to face every day. Teachers spend an inordinate amount of time planning for each lesson and having to prepare to teach the Holocaust can be emotionally draining. This paper will discuss why it is important to teach the Holocaust, one California teacher’s choice of instructional materials on the Holocaust, and also detail some resources for teachers. Examining the Holocaust is a necessary part of confronting evil and analyzing the morality of humanity. One should not shy away from history, no matter how painful it may have been. This event in history has impacted foreign relations (Karn, 2012), yet to ignore it in any way is to miss numerous lessons that can be gleaned from this tragic period in time.
Why I Teach the Shoah in the Fifth Grade
Adler, Nance M. [about]
The controversial nature of teaching the Shoah (Holocaust) to Fifth Graders was not well known to me when I was asked in 2006 to teach in this grade. I knew it had been taught previously but not by the most recent teacher. The Head of Judaics wanted me to teach it and so I began to do some research and I found that there were strong opinions on this topic. “Pedagogically unsound” and “developmentally inappropriate” were words that I repeatedly heard as part of these discussions. Considering all the gore and violence our students are exposed to on a daily basis on TV, in video games, movies and books, I found it hard to believe that there was not a way to teach the Shoah to Fifth Graders that would be both pedagogically sound and developmentally appropriate. Armed with the concerns of my colleagues but equally with my conviction, I began to put together a curriculum for my classroom that would teach my students about this important time in Jewish History and help to create in them the sense of urgency necessary to insure that such crimes would never be repeated.
The Holocaust in the Context of Ethno-Cultural Education
Gorskikh, Olga V. [about]
The history of Holocaust and the process of teaching it in schools are of great interest not only to the educational community but also to the public in general. Why is it so important to know and study the tragedy of one nation while the entire globalized world is involved in the overall ethnic communication process, and cross-cultural interaction among various countries and ethnic groups has become multidimensional and constant? The matter is, globalization involves both centripetal and centrifugal forces clearly revealing tendencies towards unification of cultures and thus, manifesting the problem of preserving ethnic identity and ethno-cultural uniqueness of various peoples. Unfortunately, open promotion of national languages, cultures, and religious views by different ethnic groups often results in confrontations among ethnic communities and presents a challenge for people’s tolerance. The issue is especially urgent today when the world is shaken by ethnic conflicts with the spread of xenophobic attitudes, intolerance to representatives of different nations or different cultures, different behavior patterns or outlooks – all this might provoke genocide again.
Holocaust studies as a way to develop students’ tolerance: practical experience
Sergeeva, Marina V. [about], Churkina, Margarita V. [about], Churkina, Margarita V. [about]
The world today abounds in pending problems – environmental, political, economic, etc. Among them the problem of teaching tolerance towards people of different nationalities, views, cultures or races is of utmost importance. Moreover, it is not just our problem; it is common all over the world. The history of the 20th century raises more questions related to this subject than suggests answers or solutions. That is why it is hard for a modern student to comprehend and fully understand this period of history. It is also extremely difficult for a history teacher to explain and correctly interpret to the students such political movements as Communism and Nazism which placed the value of the state above the value of an individual person with his or her individual rights and freedoms; exactly the opposite to the way the society operates today. How can we explain to our students that the policy of intolerance is terrible even on a grassroots day-to-day basis and, if exercised by a state, such policy may cause a worldwide disaster? The fate of the Jewish people during World War II proves the point. Holocaust is relatively new for the social sciences in Russia, and its study was never encouraged in the Soviet Union. That is why many Russians still have no idea of what Holocaust means and why it happened.
There is no future without the past (sharing Holocaust-related educational experience)
Babich, Elvira A. [about], Koryakova, Anna A. [about], Arkhipova, Victoria A. [about], Babich, Elvira A. [about], Koryakova, Anna A. [about], Arkhipova, Victoria A. [about]
Yekaterinburg City Comprehensive School No.167 (Municipal Budget Educational Institution) is implementing the “School as a Tolerance Territory” project aimed at shaping such vital personality qualities as tolerance in present-day students. In our opinion, it is tolerance that enables us to prevent a recurrence of tragic events of World War II. We have created our own model of developing tolerance in our students and we managed to fill in every component of the school system with these ideas and practices. We are talking about three main “building blocks” of any educational system: instruction, character formation, and personality development. The program successfully involves all participants of the educational process – students, teachers and parents, as well as various public institutions cooperating with our school. Since the start of the project, we have accumulated extensive experience of curricular and extracurricular activities related to tolerance-competence development and Holocaust education, some elements of which are presented in this paper. As we prepare for and commemorate the Holocaust Memorial Day, the school holds special classes, lectures, debates, screenings of documentary and feature films followed by discussions, and extracurricular activities.

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