New Zealand history teacher visits Israel to immerse in Holocaust perspectives

March 23, 2017 by Keren Cook
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A New Zealand secondary school history teacher has had a “life-changing” experience on a recent trip to Israel.

The experience has revolutionised how the Holocaust is currently taught in New Zealand secondary schools.

Dr Jill Hartland at the Golan Heights

Dr Jill Hartland currently teaches history studies at Timaru Boys High school. Her trip to Israel was from January 14 to February 2, 2017 and sponsored by the The World Holocaust Remembrance Centre Yad Vashem and Wellington-based Holocaust Museum of New Zealand. The trip offered teachers the opportunity to consider different perspectives on how to educate students about genocide.

Not all New Zealand schools teach students about the Holocaust.

Ministry of Education early learning and student achievement acting group manager Glen Johnson said teaching Holocaust history was not a requirement for schools.

“New Zealand schools are self-governing. Therefore they determine the content of their teaching and learning programmes and how those subjects will be taught in consultation with their school community,” Johnson said

For Dr Harland, who elects to teach Holocaust history – she says of her experience: “ I was extremely fortunate to have been chosen to accompany 25 other teachers from all over New Zealand to Israel for almost three weeks.”

Instead of leaving students with a sense of dejection, history head teacher Dr Harland said she wanted to leave them with a sense of hope for the future.

Over the three weeks, the exposure to experts was significant, where participants experienced 116 hours of lectures by academics and educators like Stephanie McMahon –Kaye who represents the Desk for International Seminars in English at Yad Vashem.

Jill Hartland with Holocaust survivor Rina Quint

Strategies for teaching and learning included ‘Safely in – Safely out’ which ensures students are guided though the experiences of the Holocaust with empathy in an age-appropriate manner.

“Importance is attributed to inter-disciplinary materials and resources. For example, we studied Art, Music and Literature that was created during the Holocaust.

Dr Harland is now considering adding a component of art and literature study to her teaching.

“I want to find out more about it … it’s incredible, some were produced in ghettos and death camps.

“The hope people felt was left behind in their artworks,” she said.

Dr Hartland says: “The teaching strategies that we experienced were not limited to the Holocaust but provide essential introductions to genocide in other countries, slavery, discrimination, inequality and even bullying at school and in the workforce.”

Other experiences included: interactive lectures at Yad Vashem were combined with educational tours and excursions into the Old City of Jerusalem, Nazareth, the Dead Sea, Qumran, Tel Aviv, and the Sea of Galilee.

Dr Harland says one of the highlights was to meet with Holocaust survivors originally from Poland and Lithuania, Slovakia and Italy.

“Their sense of hope against adversity was truly memorable, in fact life changing,” says Dr Harland.


One Response to “New Zealand history teacher visits Israel to immerse in Holocaust perspectives”
  1. Leon Poddebsky says:

    Very fine.
    Now perhaps Dr Harland could have a nice chat with her Foreign Minister and Prime Minister and explain to them what they already know, namely that their acts at the United Nations encourage and enable and legitimise the sorts of crimes against humanity which Dr Harland studied.

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