Bearing Witness to Humanity: Exploring a Curriculum of Civic Responsibility in the Shadow of the Holocaust

A Summer Workshop for K-12 educators.

The Bearing Witness Summer Institute will give Ohio teachers a variety of pedagogical skills and methods to approach the teaching of the Holocaust in grades 6-12. Participants will engage in an enriched exploration of the Holocaust as seen through the lens of local Holocaust survivors and will have opportunities to develop their own curriculum not only around the Holocaust but also about civic responsibility in local communities. Teachers (grades 6-12), university instructors, and pre-service teachers are eligible to enroll. Registration is limited to the first 24 people.

This program is presented with support from the Ohio Humanities, a state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

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The Bearing Witness Summer Institute will follow the life experiences of six Toledo-area Holocaust survivors, whose testimonies were included in the WGTE Toledo Stories film, Bearing Witness: The Voices of Our Survivors. Hosted by Bowling Green State University, and sponsored by the Ohio Humanities Council, the institute will empower educators to create effective curriculum for the subject area in their language arts’ and social studies’ classrooms. Coupled with this is the instruction in media documentation tools to assist in creating more compelling visual aids in the classroom.

Participants will learn how to perform primary and archival research on the historic events of the Holocaust, engage in intercultural activities with Jewish and non-Jewish community members, and explore humanities-based strategies for incorporating new knowledge into the classroom with the purpose of developing curriculum that addresses the impact of the Holocaust on the contemporary civic responsibility of individuals today. In addition, they will learn digital media (audio/visual) skills they can use to improve the quality of their curricular materials. The specific practices they learn in this summer institute will be taught in a way that can be applied to other related areas of humanities studies, so that participants will be empowered to return to their own communities to engage in these types of intergenerational, intercultural practices.

The specific objectives of this summer institute are: 1) to study both the history and impact of the Holocaust on the current cultures of both Europe and America, 2) to learn to perform archival research, 3) to learn how to execute primary interviews / capture video and audio footage, addressing both technological and theoretical concerns, 4) to explore approaches to designing interactive, 21st-century digital curriculum materials, 5) to become curriculum leaders in the development and dissemination of new curriculum, and 6) to nurture and support ongoing partnerships and collaborations across cultural boundaries, both within the Toledo area and throughout Ohio.

The goal of the Bearing Witness Summer Institute is to connect humanities scholars with local K-12 educators in an immersive workshop while providing the tools, strategies, and resources needed to not only create curricular materials to study the Holocaust, but to find ways of making the Holocaust relevant to students today, using these six survivors' personal stories specifically, as a way to bridge other subjects and times in history, including contemporary social studies concerns and other humanities subjects. By limiting the focus to these six survivors: Al Negrin (Greece), Clara Rona (Hungary), Aron Wajskol (Poland), Philip Markowicz (Poland), Rolf Hess (Germany), and Bill Leons (Netherlands), the stories take on a more poignant voice in the context of six million victims of the Holocaust. The Institute consists of informative, engaging, and immersive sessions designed to broaden not only knowledge of the Holocaust, but understand how it can be addressed within the broader spectrum of the humanities. History and language arts are often starting points for approaching the Holocaust, but we will be looking at ways that sociology, psychology, religious studies, art, theatre, and literature can address Holocaust-related issues to more thoughtfully and personally engage students.

Workshop Dates & Times
The Bearing Witness Summer Institute is a week face-to-face, with some online readings before we get together. Here are the hours:
- June 9-13: Online only (readings)
- Sunday, June 15 evening (5-9pm): Opening film screening, reception, & workshop introductions
- Mon-Fri, June 16-20 days (8am-5pm): On Campus / field trips
- Friday, June 20 evening (5-9pm): Community engagement session and closing event at Temple Shomer Emunim.

Pre-Workshop Requirements
Participants will be responsible for reading materials, engaging documents, and preparing some short responses in the week prior to the main campus institute. The Required Reading list will be available in early May.

Workshop Activities
The Bearing Witness Summer Institute is an immersive experience. In addition to learning important historical information about the Holocaust from top scholars, participants will be empowered through collaborations with several local communities and will be trained in both archival research and A/V skills, documenting their workshop experience in various digital media so that they can acquire primary sources to use in their own classrooms. Excursions during the week-long summer institute will include trips to the Holocaust Memorial Center in Farmington Hills, MI, Congregation B'Nai Israel synagogue, Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Cathedral, and the Toledo Lucas-County Public Library. Specialty workshops will focus on Document Based Questioning projects, designing digital curriculum, and performing ethnographic and archival research. Top Holocaust scholars will also be participating in the Bearing Witness Summer Institute. David Weinberg, PhD, Professor Emeritus, Bowling Green State University and Wayne State University, will give an overview of the Holocaust, discussing some of the historical events leading up to World War II in Germany that set the stage for Nazism, the Holocaust, the involvement of the US government, and liberation. Marcia Haddad Ikonomopoulos, Museum Director, Kehila Kedosha Janina (NYC), will give an overview of Jewish history in Europe, with particular focus on the lesser-known history of the Holocaust in Greece, including a focus on the Greek Orthodox Church's vital role in aiding Jews. She will then lead a dialogue relating contemporary social studies issues and critical questions which contextualize the political, religious, and social aspects that led to the destruction of Greek Jewry, and are still active today.

Post Workshop
During academic year 2014-15, Bearing Witness Summer Institute participants will follow up with some meetings structured to guide the curriculum design and dissemination. Each participant will have the opportunity to develop one learning module (equivalent of a short unit or subunit) on an aspect of the Holocaust or civic responsibility in which they feel most vested, but efforts will be made to coordinate the modules to fit together into an overarching, coherent unit on the Holocaust and our civic responsibilities in an age of cultural misconceptions, prejudice, and genocide.

Enrollment in the Bearing Witness Summer Institute at Bowling Green State University is required. Students will pay for one graduate level credit but will receive three course credits thanks to generous funding through the Ohio Humanities Council and Bowling Green State University. The total cost per student is about $640 (one graduate credit + fees).

"Funding for this program was made possible in part by the Ohio Humanities Council with support by the National Endowment for the Humanities. Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in the program do not necessarily reflect those of the National Endowment for the Humanities, or of the Ohio Humanities Council."

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