Integrating Holocaust art and aesthetics into the curriculum
This study explores elementary and high school students' responses to teaching the Holocaust through Holocaust art and aesthetics in two New Jersey public schools. Although interest among educators in teaching the history of the Holocaust—referring primarily to the annihilation of 6 million Jews (including more than 1 million children) an millions of others—has proliferated, studies have not examined the impact of Holocaust visual imagery and aesthetics on the curriculum, which I address. ^ Using interactive methods, I provided both elementary and high school teachers with age-appropriate pictures, poetry, literature, and historical texts for a Holocaust art and aesthetics curriculum. Together with teachers, I discussed means of heightening students' awareness to the ramifications of prejudice, racism, and stereotyping, bringing to focus the indelible importance of tolerance. I chronicled the development of ways that Holocaust art and aesthetics impacted students and teachers involved in the study by gathering data through audio- and videotaping, observing students' body language and their interaction in response to the pictures and aesthetics, listening to the classroom dialogue between teachers and students, collecting students' artwork and journals, and interviewing students and teachers. ^ I found that students actively responded to viewing the pictures and reading the literature of the Holocaust by drawing and writing their interpretations as well as constructing meanings significant to their own interests and concerns, making the connection to the topic much more personal. The interconnection between personal relevancy, aesthetics, and cognition provided the students with a heightened awareness and critical understanding of the moral implications of the Holocaust. By having a context for exploring indifference, injustice, and oppression, most students not only showed empathy through their pictures and journals but also expressed tolerance for diversity. It is my belief that within the interpretive framework of this study—which highlights renewal through artistic-literary, socio-cognitive, and socio-cultural perspectives—the Holocaust art and aesthetic education yields critical lessons for students, teachers, and researchers. ^
Education, Art|Education, Language and Literature|Education, Social Sciences|Education, Curriculum and Instruction
"Integrating Holocaust art and aesthetics into the curriculum"
(January 1, 2000).
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