Teaching a Single Genocide

A new study from the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust finds that 53 percent of all people in the UK, and 8 out of 10 young adults (16 – 24), could not name a genocidal event outside of the Holocaust. In addition, only a third of the student-age respondents could correctly identify the definition of genocide from a multiple choice list.

According to the Huffington Post:

The research also showed the population’s worrying predictions, and complacency, for future genocides. Around 86% of the UK public think further genocide is likely or very likely in the future, and 73% worry that even in the UK people are being persecuted for who they are.

Under half of all young people thought it was workable for the UN, governments and the public to work together to prevent genocide in the future. And 43% thought Britain shouldn’t get involved if genocides are happening in other countries.

For those of us who do this for a living, this is not particularly surprising.

It does help to illustrate an on-going problem with Holocaust education: teaching a single genocide does not teach genocide nor does it instill a need for intervention. It’s a good start but how can students understand and synthesize the necessary conceptual problems of such a broad concept like genocide with only one example?

2 thoughts on “Teaching a Single Genocide”

  1. None that I’ve seen. The UK has mandatory Holocaust education whereas the United States is done state-by-state with the majority not having any type of legislative guidelines. This is why studies from the UK are fairly valuable right now because they show us what is and isn’t working in Holocaust education.

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