This Tuesday, January 19, our class will be taking a field trip to the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center. We will have the opportunity to be guided by museum docents on a tour of the museum, and to hear from a speaker who a survivor of the Holocaust.
Our current course of study for social studies and reading is World War II. We’ve been studying this period in history using a few different lenses, while focusing on how this relates to our year’s theme of Movement of People.
Last week, the class has had lessons and discussions about the war’s timeline and geography, with a political point of view.
This week, we learned about the Holocaust itself, and all the students participated in an activity and discussion about the bystanders and collaborators of the Holocaust called “Some Were Neighbors” (based on this lesson material and photos from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum).
Other aspects of social studies that will be coming up later this month are the U.S. homefront during WWII, Japanese internment in the U.S., propaganda posters, and a final “stopping point” project.
At the same time we are reading Maus by Art Spiegelman, the iconic graphic novel of a Holocaust survivor’s story. The students have been enjoying the book, with thoughtful questions and responses to the reading.
While the museum experience next week will doubtless be emotional and unsettling, I am confident that the students are mature enough to handle the trip. A few things the museum staff mentioned that will help the trip go smoothly:
- Please be sure that your child eats breakfast on Tuesday morning and brings extra snacks in their lunch. The museum tour will be occurring between 10:30-1:30, which overlaps our regular lunch time. The museum staff specifically asks that students aren’t distracted by being hungry.
- It can get cool in the museum, so students should wear a sweater/sweatshirt. We’ll be able to store our coats when we get there.
- I’ve asked the students to dress “business casual” – somewhere between every day school wear, and what they’d dress in to go out to a play.
- We’re taking a school bus, so the students don’t need money or a CTA card.
Additionally, please find some time to talk to your child about the museum experience, and what they’re learning about WWII and the Holocaust. I’m constantly surprised and delighted by the students’ high level of understanding and introspection, their ability to make connections between events across time and geography, their passion for justice in the world, their unique blend of innocence and maturity that only an adolescent can have. I hope that you find these same things when talking to your child about what they’re learning about the nature of the world.