Course collaboration enriches holocaust learning for trainee teachers
Students at the University of Wolverhampton have collaborated on a unique project to enrich their learning about how to teach children about the Holocaust.
History and Drama teaching trainees studying on the Postgraduate Certificate in Secondary Education (PGCE) at the University’s School of Education based at the Walsall Campus worked together to identify ways of using drama to tell survivor stories for International Holocaust Memorial Day which will be held on 27 January.
The Subject Leader for Drama at the University, Wendy Frost, secured a £500 bursary from National Drama (Drama Inspires: Connect, Inspire and Raise Awareness) to enlist the specialist services of Dr Sam Mitschke, a Holocaust Theatre researcher, educator and writer, who worked with the students to explore short pieces of verbatim writing from ‘If This is a Man’ by Primo Levi.
Wendy said: “The focus of this project was to bring our Drama and History trainees together to focus on Holocaust Education.
“The students collaborated on a workshop that focused on how they could teach more effectively by bringing the holocaust to life through drama, making the stories real for their pupils, and using the expertise of Sam Mitschke to ensure that the reality and the horror of that time in history was properly represented.”
Jodie McGregor, studying PGCE Drama, said: “We sat and absorbed lots of information about the Holocaust and then we got up and did lots of practical and group work. It was really interesting to work with the historians and get their perspectives. I will definitely take what I’ve learned into my work. Exploring the Holocaust in a practical manner using theatre and drama techniques offers students a different approach to a really serious and intense subject - you’re following characters and stories and I think that gives an access point for students into the empathy they could feel.”
Hugh Burrowes, studying PGCE History, said: “As history teachers, it’s not something we usually explore – using theatre and drama – but it makes it quite emotive. In history, we focus on facts a lot so rather than getting them to read pages of an article or a diary, if you can sit them down and get them captivated for ten minutes in a performance, that would definitely be more beneficial and it’s a more gentle approach for what can be a brutal topic to learn about. It’s a new technique but there are some clear benefits of bringing this into a school.”
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