Can learning about the Holocaust be spiritual? Reflections on a teaching and learning experience with Primary School children.

Wills, Ruth (2018) Can learning about the Holocaust be spiritual? Reflections on a teaching and learning experience with Primary School children. International Journal of Children’s Spirituality, 23 (3). pp. 248-259. ISSN 1364-436X (Print) 1469-8455 (Online)

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Abstract

In April 2017 I spent a week in Poland researching the Holocaust in Europe of 1939-45. Most notably I visited the world heritage sites of the Auschwitz and Birkenau concentration camps. Following the visit, I facilitated three History lessons with ten and eleven-year-old children on the role of Auschwitz in World War Two. As the sessions unfolded, it became clear that not only was the History curriculum being observed - spiritual development was also taking place. In particular, the spiritual themes of meaning, identity and remembering emerged from the children’s responses. This article forms a reflection on how the lessons impacted the children’s spiritual lives. For education going forward, it also considers how the History curriculum might inspire a critical pedagogy which evokes hope and change. It is noted that this is a sensitive topic which potentially incites a struggle on the part of both learners and teachers. In particular, issues such as theology, morality and the role of representation open up a space for questioning. However I conclude that it is through this struggle that self-awareness and criticality might contribute the transformation - of both the learners and the world around them.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information and Comments: This is an Author's Original Manuscript of an article whose final and definitive form, the Version of Record, has been published in International Journal of Children’s Spirituality on 20 April 2018 [copyright Taylor & Francis], available online at https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/1364436X.2018.1459510I
Keywords: Holocaust, auschwitz, spirituality, History, critical pedagogy
Faculty / Department: Faculty of Education > Early Childhood
Depositing User: Ruth Wills
Date Deposited: 06 May 2020 08:07
Last Modified: 06 May 2020 08:07
URI: https://hira.hope.ac.uk/id/eprint/3057

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