Best Practice

Holocaust education: Misconceptions and myths

Drawing on research by the UCL Centre for Holocaust Education, Dr Alice Pettigrew highlights some key concerns about young people’s perceptions of the Holocaust and considers the implications for teachers

The Holocaust has been included as compulsory content within the national curriculum for secondary school history since 1991 and in recent years the government, through the establishment of the Prime Minister’s Holocaust Commission, has publicly reaffirmed the importance it places upon educating future generations about this history.

However, researchers from the UCL Centre for Holocaust Education have recently published findings of a national study – entitled What Do Students Know and Understand About the Holocaust? – involving more than 8,000 secondary students from schools across England which issue a sobering challenge to all those working in this field.

For in spite of very high reported levels of interest and enthusiasm among the young people surveyed, the research demonstrates that there remain significant gaps in student knowledge of this period – even among those who have formally studied the subject – and several troubling myths and misconceptions appear to be very widely held.

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