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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Remembering the Holocaust : teachers' narrative choices and students' historical thinking Perry-Whittingham, Michael


This study investigated teachers' narrative choice and students' historical thinking. The research examined the influence of varying curriculum materials, including a graphic novel, feature film and discovery trunk, on student thinking about the Holocaust. The study was conducted in three social studies 11 classes, taught by the researcher, in an urban public secondary school. Data used in the study consisted of student essay samples and informal classroom observations. The study's findings revealed that students' thinking about the Holocaust was multi-dimensional and fairly complex. Students' thinking, at the end of the unit, was categorized into themes: preservation of Holocaust artifacts and relics, the use of museums as sites of memory, learning lessons from the Holocaust about humanity, and the intrinsic moral weight of the Holocaust as a historical event. The use of varied resources did not provide substantial evidence of differentiated historical understanding, but there was some evidence to suggest that the varied resources impacted student understanding on a general level. In light of these findings the thesis concludes that studying the Holocaust is a valuable topic for students because they will find the narratives compelling, confront personal moral frames and benefit from thinking through the historical complexity of the Holocaust.

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