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Research shows how little teachers in England know about the Holocaust

CM 16/09/2021

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In a study conducted between 2009 and 2020, researchers found that teachers in England do not have some basic knowledge regarding the Holocaust.
The survey began in 2009 when the UCL Center for Holocaust Education conducted research within secondary schools in England regarding the teaching of the Holocaust. Based on the findings, the center created programs that would re-shape the teaching of the Holocaust in England and abroad.
In 2019 and 2020, UCL conducted a follow-up research in which they interviewed almost 1,000 teachers in groups of 134 from 45 schools. The interview included 12 multiple choice questions, eight of which were very similar to questions in the 2009 survey.

THE HALL of Names at the Yad Vashem World Holocaust Remembrance Center in Jerusalem, April 20, 2020. (credit: RONEN ZVULUN/REUTERS)THE HALL of Names at the Yad Vashem World Holocaust Remembrance Center in Jerusalem, April 20, 2020. (credit: RONEN ZVULUN/REUTERS)

The results were as follows:
In 2009, 73% of teachers who took part in the survey confidently believed themselves to be “very knowledgeable” about the Holocaust. However, the survey proved otherwise. Only 25.2% of teachers were able to estimate the German Jewish population before the Holocaust, and only 20.9% knew the consequences for a member of the German occupying forces if he refused to murder a Jew.
Further research conducted with almost 10,000 students in 2016 showed that some students were knowledgeable about the Holocaust, but the vast majority did not understand the circumstances of the Holocaust with 73.9% of students overestimating the German Jewish population before the Holocaust by 15-30 times the 1%.
The survey also showed that students overestimating their knowledge, with 60% claiming confidence that they knew what would happen to a German soldier if her refused to kill a Jew but only 5% correctly stating that they would be excused and reassigned.
Researchers were satisfied to see in 2019/20 that teachers were twice as likely to answer the eight questions that reappeared than they were in 2009.
Despite this rise in knowledge, there were still four questions that the vast majority could not answer correctly and one that only 50% knew the answer to.
The survey provided a space for teachers to comment on their results, and it showed them that inaccurate teaching affected the students’ education.
“It made me realize that I was teaching and reinforcing misconceptions that students had because they were the misconceptions I had,” wrote a Religious Education teacher from the east of England.
“I think it has enabled me to have a far more accurate understanding of the facts of the Holocaust, but most pertinently, it’s given me an understanding of how best to communicate key ideas and tackle misconceptions in the classroom,” said a Religious Studies teacher from London.
“The research has helped me identify problematic misconceptions and their implications as barriers to learning,” said a history teacher from the northwest of England.
“[The research] has given me so much confidence whilst teaching the Holocaust,” said a history teacher from London. “I no longer worry about how to answer questions the students have.”
“The findings in this data release clearly indicate that formal specialist training makes a significant impact on teachers’ subject knowledge of the Holocaust and its history,” said Dr. Andy Pearce, an associate professor in Holocaust and History Education.
He added that there was still a problem in which teachers’ knowledge is not as extensive as it should be to “combat myths and misconceptions that are prevalent in wider society and which we know are held by many young people.”
“Not having this knowledge has profound repercussions. It means that teachers are less likely to be able to identify misconceptions among their students, it increases the risk that misunderstandings will be perpetuated, and it undermines the notion that by learning about the Holocaust young people will be able to better understand and respond to persecution and atrocity,” he said.


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The host of Coffee Mouth Scare Crow Show and CEO of 452 Impact, Inc. Here is food for thought. Romans 6:23 "For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." John 3:16 "For God so love ed the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him shall be saved."

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