Guidelines for Study Trips to Holocaust-Related Authentic and Non-Authentic Sites
Visits to authentic and non-authentic sites create special learning experiences and opportunities different from those in the classroom. A visit can also raise the "status" of a subject in the eyes of students who see that they have been taken out of school and out of other subjects in order to make the visit.
Authentic sites provide a unique atmosphere, which can create a special desire to learn and which evokes strong emotions. It is the duty of the educator to be aware that they will be exposing their students to these strong emotions and to take this into account when structuring the visit.
Authentic sites provide opportunities for in-depth study of particular places and moments in time.
It is difficult for museums to reproduce the emotional impact that comes from a visit to an authentic site; however, students are less likely to be overwhelmed by the strength of their feelings and might be able to see the broader historical context.
The opportunity to study original artifacts can stimulate interest, motivation, and learning and can provide a direct and tangible link with people in the past that is difficult to replicate in the classroom.
The educator has a responsibility to the students and should be sure that a visit to an authentic site or museum is appropriate for the age of their students. It is essential that the educator consult with the staff of the authentic site or museum on this matter.
A visit to an authentic site or to a museum should not be considered in and of itself to be sufficient in a study of the Holocaust. The educator must be clear about the aims of a visit to an authentic site or museum. How will it complement, extend, and develop classroom work?
It is essential that the visit is carefully planned and that the educator contacts the site for advice when preparing the visit. Ideally, educators will make a preliminary visit and/or attend teacher-training seminars related to bringing students on a study trip to the site.
The educator must consider when a study trip occurs in the broader scheme of work for teaching the Holocaust, and how it is integrated with work in the classroom. The study trip requires preparation, the visit itself, and follow-up activities. These activities should have a clear emphasis on learning the history of the Holocaust, but might be enriched by an inter-disciplinary approach.
The site should recognize its responsibility to provide educators with advice, information, and materials for preparation and follow-up lessons in the classroom, and the educator should allocate sufficient time for these activities.
The preparation must make clear that an authentic site is a memorial with its own history, and that a visit to that site can involve learning not only about the past but also how that past has been remembered and commemorated.
A visit to an authentic site should focus on the history of that site. Students should actively use the site as historical evidence to explore themes and issues that were discussed during the pre-visit work. The visit should not be seen as only an opportunity to answer these historical questions, but as a stimulus for new historical, moral, and ethical questions.
Most students are unused to learning from museums and authentic sites and many will not have the learning skills necessary for these environments. Therefore, the museum and the authentic site should facilitate students' learning during the visit by helping students to interpret the displays. This should take into account students' ages, different learning needs, and varying degrees of knowledge. This might include the provision of orientation and/or debriefing sessions, guided tours, worksheets, audio guides, etc.
The educator should encourage discussion and reflection at the site as an integral part of the visit and the authentic site or museum should provide space and time to make this possible.
The follow-up work should respond to the questions raised by the students as a result of the study trip and help them to place what they have learned during the visit into a broader context.