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John Simkin

Holocaust Memorial Day

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A friend of mine did an assembly the other day where he argued that the "Holocaust Memorial Day is counterproductive, as by institutionalising the day we either (a) brush it under the carpet or ( Have a tendency to focus on the Nazi Holocaust of Jews and label it as a "German" crime. In other words, it breeds prejudice and bigotry in a minority, and apathy and complacency in the majority - exactly the sort of thing which helps to create the conditions for another one."

It sounds like a stimulating assembly. I am not sure I fully agree with it but he was clearly right to question this process. He definitely gave the students (and staff) something to think about.

Many years ago I started a PhD (I later turned it into a MPhil) into the role that school plays in the development of political consciousness. This include a study of school assemblies and the way they impacted on the students. My research showed that the vast majority of students did not listen to the assembly. (Although they liked them as they saw it as a gentle introduction into the school day.) The main message they got from these was that morality was about obeying those in authority.

However, I discovered that some assemblies did make them think deeply about issues. In most cases this involved assemblies given by someone who rarely gave them. If they used a different approach, especially if it included drama, they did take note. I have always thought that schools underestimate the ability of students to think deeply about moral issues. However, before you can do that, you have got to let them know that you really are interested in what they have to say in the issue. Lectures are totally ineffective in this process.

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A friend of mine did an assembly the other day where he argued that the "Holocaust Memorial Day is counterproductive, as by institutionalising the day we either (a) brush it under the carpet or ( Have a tendency to focus on the Nazi Holocaust of Jews and label it as a "German" crime. In other words, it breeds prejudice and bigotry in a minority, and apathy and complacency in the majority - exactly the sort of thing which helps to create the conditions for another one."

It sounds like a stimulating assembly. I am not sure I fully agree with it but he was clearly right to question this process. He definitely gave the students (and staff) something to think about.

Many years ago I started a PhD (I later turned it into a MPhil) into the role that school plays in the development of political consciousness. This include a study of school assemblies and the way they impacted on the students. My research showed that the vast majority of students did not listen to the assembly. (Although they liked them as they saw it as a gentle introduction into the school day.) The main message they got from these was that morality was about obeying those in authority.

However, I discovered that some assemblies did make them think deeply about issues. In most cases this involved assemblies given by someone who rarely gave them. If they used a different approach, especially if it included drama, they did take note. I have always thought that schools underestimate the ability of students to think deeply about moral issues. However, before you can do that, you have got to let them know that you really are interested in what they have to say in the issue. Lectures are totally ineffective in this process.

This would also be backed up by the fact that, in general, students respond much better to guest speakers than to teachers. We have a visit from a Holocaust survivor every year - although most of the work is done in RE lessons, he does assemblies too, and students listen and respond to an extent they never do when the assembly is taken by a teacher.

The point about the Holocaust memorial day is also interesting. It's a difficult area - because obviously we need opportunities to challenge students' perceptions of such events and stimulate debates but there is always a danger of sensationalising.

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Oops - sorry! I have no idea why the whole quote was added there!

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Guest Andrew Moore

The problem does not lie with the Holocaust. Since this happened, then it behoves us, as educators, to say or do something.

The problem does lie with the loathsome ragbag of mixed messages that constitutes the typical school assembly.

One often sees how this time is a bone of contention - someone wants to enlighten or exhort to some kind of moral rectitude; someone else wants to remind students of an exam, or give out a letter or request money for a trip; someone else wants to warn them of the evils of fags, and so on.

Behind this lies an unexamined, almost Darwinian struggle, by competing teachers, for the time, attention, work and conformity of the students. Pretty well everyone at the place where I worked demanded (and mostly got) more than a fair share of the time any student could afford - apart from a few very sane ones, who made the work fit the time, and retained their own control of their lives.

What of the Holocaust? Some years ago I wrote a Web site to teach about Anne Frank - connecting this with an exhibition, managed by the Anne Frank Educational Trust, that came to our area. Since this time, I have become disgusted by the way this lot looks after what should be a legacy to the world. The story - a universal one - is nailed down by copyright, when manifestly Anne and her immediate family are not the beneficiaries. You can make your own judgements about how well the Trust honours that memory.

If we are going to do this kind of thing, we need to do it well, and tell the truth.

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Hi Pastoral care editors,

It is impossible for me, reading your messages what is meant by pastoral care.

Is it psychology, filosophy, mentoring or ...... what. Is it a subject or a task?

Is it social care? Is it done by a pastor?

Is it blue, red, yellow or green ..... :lol:

Huub Schoot

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Pastoral care basically means looking after the welfare of the students, ie it is not based on curriculum but on each child's other needs. This may involve issues of discipline, behaviour problems, counselling, mentoring etc. Each school has a different approach to pastoral care, but in most schools it is delivered by a team of teachers, from Form Tutors (each of whom look after the day to day wellbeing of a class); Heads of Year and their Assistants (who look after a whole year group, dealing with problems beyond what a form tutor can take care of) and usually at least one member of the Leadership Group who has overall responsibility for the Pastoral care system.

Does that help?

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