The Eva and Eugene Schlesinger Endowed Teacher Training Workshop on the Holocaust returns to Cal State Long Beach (CSULB) this week (Aug. 5-9) with the goal of training local teachers in ways to educate about the Nazi genocide.
“This workshop is one of the most significant services we offer all year. It brings high school teachers on campus for curriculum development that will enable them to teach students about the Holocaust in an age-appropriate way,” explained CSULB History Professor Jeffrey Blutinger, the inaugural Barbara and Ray Alpert Endowed Chair for Jewish Studies.
The theme of this year’s workshop is “Aftermath.”
“In past years, the workshops looked at such topics as children, art and human behavior,” he said. “This year, we examine what happened to the victims of the Holocaust when they tried to go home. What happened when they had no homes to go to? We will deal with issues ranging from rebuilding lives to vengeance.”
Blutinger pointed out that Holocaust education is a state standard usually taught at the 10th and 11th grades. “Part of the instruction comes in history and part in language arts,” he said. “But those who instruct the Holocaust may not have taken a class in the subject. Their knowledge may be limited to whatever movies they’ve seen or whatever world history textbook they read at university.
“What we are doing,” he added, “is providing them information about the subject, including a general overview accompanied by binder material prepared by the Jewish Anti-Defamation League titled ‘Echoes and Reflections.’”
This year, 26 teachers are enrolled and will receive $200 stipends to pay for food and parking and may receive up to two units of service credit. Participants also will receive Saul Friedlander’s “When Memory Comes,” which details his childhood survival of the Holocaust hidden in a convent after the murder of his parents.
The Jewish Studies program was approached in 2009 by Holocaust survivor Gerda Seifer and her husband, Harold, with the seed gift that created the teacher workshop.
“There’s nothing like it available in Southern California,” Blutinger said. “It was a chance to fill a major need. I thought it was a terrific idea. It gives Jewish Studies at CSULB a chance to increase its visibility in Los Angeles and Orange counties.”
The workshop opens with an overview of the Holocaust followed by a three-hour workshop on how to use “Echoes and Reflections.” On Tuesday, the workshop will examine the personal stories of victims while on Wednesday participants will visit the Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust in its new home in Pan Pacific Park.
“This is the oldest Holocaust museum in the United States,” said Blutinger. “The teachers will meet a holocaust survivor and receive a docent-led tour.”
On Thursday, Sherry Bard of USC’s Shoah Foundation will demonstrate how to use the Holocaust database “Eyewitness” to access survivor interviews for classroom assignments. On Friday, the workshop will study legal responses to the Holocaust.
“We will look at the Nuremberg trials and successor trials to examine efforts to de-Nazify Germany,” he said. Holocaust survivor Gerda Seifer also will address her experience as a “hidden child.”
Jewish Studies tracks its workshop success through teacher feedback. “We ask participants during and at the conclusion of the conference for their response,” he recalled. “Teachers spoke of how helpful the course was in their instruction and how it enabled them to assist colleagues. It was very heartening to hear how well they responded.”
Blutinger feels the workshop fits into the mission of Jewish Studies at CSULB by moving the program more and more into the field of teacher preparation and education.
“This workshop works well with one of CSULB’s core missions – to prepare teachers,” he said. “There are many Jewish Studies programs in the United States. We don’t want to duplicate what already has been done elsewhere. We don’t have the budget to match what other people are doing so we specialize in teacher training.
“By bringing in these teachers, what we’re really doing is fulfilling the teacher training core mission of this university,” Blutinger continued. “I want Jewish Studies to cover the whole variety of students at CSULB, from undergraduates to graduates to teachers in the field.”
Blutinger hopes to expand the workshop with one-day follow-ups beginning in the spring of 2014. The plan is to bring back workshop alumni to lead sessions about how to implement the material in a classroom.