Representation of the Holocaust: Alternative Views
State University of New York College at Old Westbury
This article examines the use of alternative texts to represent the Holocaust and to teach secondary students about this event. An alternative text is anything other than a traditional textbook. Alternate texts may include poetry, novels, graphic novels, films, or plays. By using alternative texts, teachers can engage students in multiple perspectives to stimulate critical thinking in their classrooms. Alternative texts, furthermore, can shift the paradigm of how teachers and students think about morally and ethically complex subjects. In order to facilitate such a shift, teachers, scholars, and students should view different ways of representing difficult subjects in the classroom. The Holocaust is a difficult subject to teach due to the scale of moral issues and scope of this crime against humanity. Traditional means of teaching the Holocaust, using maps, textbooks, and primary source documents are important but fail to create changes in students perspectives because there is little space for students to become more empathetic and apply history to current world events. Providing students with texts including narratives, poetry, and first-person accounts can add humanity into what some view as one of the most inhumane events in history and thus shift the paradigm for high school students.
Key words: Holocaust, genocide, alternative texts, pedagogy, history, literacy