Teachers’ Workshop “Human Rights Education: Practical Tools for Celebrating Diversity and Antidiscrimination”
The United Nations Department of Public Information, together with Facing History and Ourselves and Stories that Move, invited teachers to participate in a special and practical workshop titled "Human Rights Education: Practical Tools for Celebrating Diversity and Antidiscrimination", which took place on 2 November 2018 at United Nations Headquarters in New York.
The event marked the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the 1938 Kristallnacht pogrom. Teachers learnt how to teach about human rights more effectively and how to challenge their students to think critically about diversity and discrimination. Ms. Kimberly Mann, Chief, Education Outreach Section, delivered welcoming remarks and Mr. Ramu Damodaran, Chief, United Nations Academic Impact Initiative, opened the event. Karen Murphy and Kevin Feinberg from Facing History and Ourselves, the international educational and professional development organization, examined the principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and provide teachers with tools to teach about the UDHR.
Facilitated by Karen Polak, senior educator from the Anne Frank House, teachers were introduced to the online resource Stories That Move created by the Anne Frank House with eight partners. This online resource integrates innovative teaching methodology, digital tools and primary resource material such as film clips of young people sharing their experiences of exclusion, discrimination and hate crimes. "Stories That Move: Toolbox against discrimination" is a multi-lingual online initiative developed by the Anne Frank House, Zachor Foundation, Pedagogical University of Cracow, Anne Frank Zentrum, Milan Simecka Foundation, erinnern.at, International School Amsterdam, NGO MART and Eagerly Internet.
Professional Development Workshop “Holocaust Education: Tools and Techniques”
More than 80 educators from Connecticut to Washington, D.C. came together in a day-long professional development workshop titled “Holocaust Education: Tools and Techniques”, held on 2 May 2013 at United Nations Headquarters in NYC. Organized by the Holocaust and the United Nations Outreach Programme, the objective of the event was to share effective methods and technology for teaching the Holocaust, and examine the role of teachers in encouraging students to respect diversity in the classroom and beyond.
“You as teachers perform a vital role in society, shaping the minds of young people – our future leaders – to become responsible and contributing citizens of our world”, said Mr. Launsky-Tieffenthal, Under-Secretary-General for Communications and Public Information, in his opening remarks to the event. “And your work is directly related to the aims and objectives of our work here at the United Nations". Also speaking in the opening session was Mr. Ahmad Alhendawi, the newly appointed and first-ever Envoy of the Secretary-General on Youth, who spoke about how Holocaust education presents an opportunity to teach students about the dangers of intolerance. “I believe, the Holocaust presents a unique opportunity to teach young people about tolerance and the dangers of hate”, Mr. Alhendawi told participants. “It’s a lesson in the value of each human being and the need to protect human rights for all.”
Kimberly Mann, the Manager of the Holocaust and the United Nations Outreach Programme gave participants an overview of the work of the Holocaust and the United Nations Outreach Programme, which began in 2006 as called for in General Assembly Resolution 60/7, underscoring the need for Holocaust education as a way to educate people about the consequences of hatred and discrimination in order to prevent future acts of genocide. The workshop was comprised of five sessions that included presentations by the USC Shoah Foundation — The Institute for Visual History and Education , the Anne Frank House, Yad Vashem, The Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Authority, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and the Anti-Defamation League.
The first of five interactive sessions was be led by Stephen Feinberg, an educator with the USC Shoah Foundation, who introduced teachers to “IWitness,” an educational website that brings more than 1,300 testimonies of survivors and witnesses of the Holocaust and other genocides from the Institute’s Visual History Archive to secondary schools via engaging multimedia learning activities. “IWitness provides a transformative educational experience of using testimonies of people who lived through the Holocaust”, Mr. Feinberg explained. “It is transformative because students make personal connections with the voices in IWiteness.” Also in the morning session, Karen Polak, a senior educator with the international department of the Anne Frank House in The Netherlands, led a session titled “The Process of Exclusion and Persecution of Roma and Sinti in Past and Present”. Participants learned how these people were targeted for discrimination and murder by the Nazis and continue to be marginalized in some parts of the world today.
In the afternoon session, Sheryl Silver Ochayon, an educator and lawyer, guided educators on teaching the Holocaust and other genocides through curriculum created by the International School for Holocaust Studies at Yad Vashem, The Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Authority. She explained how the Holocaust can be used to teach about common patterns and processes in the development of genocidal behaviour. Steven Luckert, Curator of the Permanent Exhibition at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, then gave a presentation on the power of propaganda. “Propaganda is an age-old phenomenon that plays on the emotions of hope and fear”, he explained. “It is something the Nazis understood”. Through a multi-year campaign of propaganda against the Jews and in favour of the perfect German and model German family, the Nazis were able to generate support for their racist ideology.
Tanya Odom, an educator with the Anti-Defamation League, concluded the day’s discussions with a lively and interactive session on how teachers can create an anti-bias learning environment. She demonstrated how teachers could use “The Pyramid of Hate”, which starts with prejudiced attitudes and progresses to acts of prejudice, discrimination, violence and potentially genocide in certain cases. The Holocaust and the United Nations Outreach Programme demonstrated how, through its educational activities and materials, it draws crucial links between the lessons to be learned from the Holocaust, the underlying causes of genocide and the promotion of human rights today. This event for educators is one of many activities organized by the Programme throughout the year.
A Special Event for “IWitness” with USC Shoah Foundation Institute for Visual History and Education
On 23 January 2012, the United Nations Department of Public Information, in partnership with the University of Southern California’s Shoah Foundation Institute for Visual History and Education, held a special event to debut the new online Holocaust education technology “IWitness”. Designed as a resource for secondary school teachers and students, IWitness makes 1,000 video testimonies of survivors and other eyewitnesses of the Holocaust available through an online platform. IWitness provides students with a deeper understanding of 20th century history and an opportunity to learn 21st century digital and media literacy skills. The event was held in partnership with the United States Mission to the United Nations, in observance of the International Day of Commemoration in memory of the victims of the Holocaust.
More than 350 New York metropolitan area high school students, who had been learning how to use the new online educational tool in their classrooms, attended the event. They shared their experiences gained through viewing the video testimonies of Holocaust survivors, including survivor Roman Kent. Mr. Kent, who serves as Chairman of the American Gathering of Jewish Holocaust Survivors and Their Descendants and was appointed by President Obama to the United States Holocaust Memorial Council, was present to provide his own reflections on Holocaust education and answer the students' questions. The students also shared the results of the projects they completed using IWitness.
IWitness marks the first time testimonies from the Shoah Foundation Institute, founded in 1994 by filmmaker Steven Spielberg after completing the film "Schindler’s List", will be made accessible via the Internet to secondary school teachers and students to fulfil an Institute goal: To make the testimonies available so future generations can learn directly from these Holocaust eyewitnesses and transform their perceptions.
Exploring a Past, One Distant, One Near, in Search of a Better Future
Thirty educators from secondary schools throughout Rwanda gathered from 31 July to 3 August 2011 at the Kigali Memorial Centre to learn how to help their students better understand the causes of genocide and how to foster a commitment to human rights following the 1994 genocide against the Hutus in Rwanda.
Sponsored by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, the American Federation of Teachers, and New York State United Teachers, the conference was organized by Andrew Beiter and Mark Gudgel co-Directors of The Educators' Institute for Human Rights, with local support from the Interdisciplinary Genocide Studies Centre. During the three-day meeting, experts drew upon their knowledge of the Holocaust and the genocide in Rwanda to find ways to help students grasp the circumstances that can lead to genocide and why it is essential to remember the victims and survivors. Local educators will now be better equipped to help children understand the human dimension of these tragedies and the importance of respecting one another. In fostering a sense of responsibility and community in each of them, teachers will help to build human rights defenders, beginning in the classroom.
Kimberly Mann, manager of the Holocaust and the United Nations Outreach Programme, was among the speakers at the conference. She spoke about the role of remembrance in raising awareness to the dangers of hatred and prejudice, recognizing the worth and dignity of each individual and the issues that teachers should be sensitive to or avoid when commemorating these tragedies with students. Among the other presenters were Peter J. Fredlake, Director, National Outreach for Teacher Initiatives of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum; Carl Wilkens, who shared his personal story of courage in helping to provide food and water to orphans in Rwanda when the killing began in 1994; Dr. Mark Mostert of Regent University, who described the Nazis’ euthanasia programme that targeted physically and mentally disabled persons; and Ernest Mutwarasibo of the National University of Rwanda, who gave an in-depth lecture about the history of the Rwandan Genocide. Presenters also provided the educators with teaching materials to be used in their classrooms.
The location of the conference, at the Kigali Genocide Memorial Centre, was particularly symbolic. The Memorial was opened in April 2004, on the 10th Anniversary of the Rwandan Genocide, and is built on a site where over 250,000 people are buried. The Centre is a permanent memorial to victims of the genocide and serves as a place for people to grieve those they lost, co-founded by James Smith, Chief Executive of Aegis Trust, a genocide prevention organization.