Teaching the Holocaust in History: Policy and Classroom Perspectives

Russell, Lucy. 2005. Teaching the Holocaust in History: Policy and Classroom Perspectives. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

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Abstract or Description

This thesis presents an examination of the position of the Holocaust in the National Curriculum for History and of history teachers' interpretation and presentation of this topic. The Interim Report of the History Working Group, which was set up in 1989 to advise the Secretary of State for Education on the form the History Curriculum should take, did not recommend the Holocaust - or the Second World War – as topics for study. This decision was reversed and the Holocaust was included, as an aspect of World War two, in the Group's Final Report. Drawing on a series of interviews with members of the History Working Group, and analysis of their working documentation, this thesis examines and explains this apparent 'u-turn'. Subsequent amendments and revisions to the National Curriculum for History which have resulted in the increasing prominence of the Holocaust, currently one of only four named historical events which must be taught, are set out. In examining the position of the Holocaust in the National Curriculum two key debates are considered: the role of school history and the uniqueness of the Holocaust. There are a number of issues involved in teaching the Holocaust in history which go beyond the usual considerations of lesson planning and resourcing: it would appear the key issue is that teachers are unclear about whether the rationale behind the inclusion of the Holocaust on the History National Curriculum is primarily historical, social or moral. In order to get closer to an answer to this problem this thesis brings together two foci: the history of the Holocaust as a National Curriculum topic and the presentation of this topic in the history classroom. Interviews with teachers of history are drawn upon in addressing the latter strand. It becomes evident that there was a lack of clarity among those who shaped the National Curriculum for History regarding the aims and objectives of including the topic of the Holocaust. This thesis argues that this lack of clarity at the Centre is reflected in the many and varied approaches to teaching the Holocaust found in the history classroom.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)

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holocaust, education, history, curriculum, policy



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Date Deposited:

14 Jul 2020 09:46

Last Modified:

07 Sep 2022 17:17



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