Featured Image: MTF Patricia Hannon hosts teacher professional development conference in Courtroom 600, Nuremberg; site of Nuremberg Military Tribunals. Ben Ferencz, lead prosecutor, joined them electronically for Q&A session!
Museum Teacher Fellow, Patricia Hannon, shares her thoughts on leading teachers to historical sites and new pedagogical insights.
Leave it to Patricia Hannon to organize conferences at historical sites with teachers when in Europe. A Museum Teacher Fellow (class 2015-2016), a teacher for the Department of Defense Dependents Schools (DoDDS), and Human and Civil Rights Coordinator for the Federal Education Association Europe; Patricia has done just that over the past year.
There has never been a more important time than now to teach and share the history of the Holocaust, according to Patricia. For the first time ever, 38 DoDDS teachers joined her last February at Nuremberg for a unique two-day conference. The central focus was exploring Holocaust pedagogy, utilizing local historical sites and host-nation experts. The conference was such a success that a follow-up already took place last fall at yet another historical site. This time the venue was the infamous Kehlsteinhaus, (the Eagle’s Nest) Hitler’s mountain retreat.
For Patricia Hannon the conferences represent a new era of cooperation between U.S. and German scholars; forging new host-nation partnerships to the further delight of educators who are afforded this unique opportunity. Although DoDEA (Department of Defense Education Activity) has had a presence in Germany for 60+ years, they have never worked formally with host-nation sites or scholars in the field of Holocaust education. Patricia stated, “The decision to pursue these partnerships at authentic sites is directly related to the MTF training I received at the USHMM from Kristin Thompson and Laurie Schaeffer. The USHMM training that I received emboldened me to pursue these partnerships, and thankfully, the host-nation organizations and sites were quite welcoming.”
The approach for the conferences is to go beyond the ‘traditional’ perpetrator/victim narratives of the past. For Patricia it is necessary to proceed together to study both historical and contemporary human rights. There is absolutely no replacement for on-site learning and the authenticity can lead to profound connections. Furthermore, by receiving training from host-nation Holocaust scholars, Patricia and her team are opening themselves to this unique pedagogy and point of view. At the Nuremberg conference, they compared mandated Holocaust curricula in both the US and Germany. The results were surprising and enlightening. When considering sites and people with whom to work, the paramount importance is replicability with students. Patricia commented, “We want teachers to go back to their classrooms and consider the site for their students. Ultimately, I see my job as making these sites and scholars more accessible for the next generation of American teachers and students.
Organizing a workshop is a joint-venture. The conferences Patricia has organized are sponsored by the Human and Civil Rights Division of the Federal Education Association (FEA). They are open to FEA members, non-members, and their guests. “Most certainly, any fellow MTF is welcome as my personal guest! Next up is a conference tentatively scheduled to be held in Munich during the Spring of 2018,” Patricia noted. In the future Patricia would love to further partnerships to help design trips to authentic sites for students outside of DoDDS as well. Wouldn’t that be something?