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Highly recommended CPD resourse


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#1 Seb Phillips

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Posted 18 February 2012 - 02:12 PM

I've just finished watching Yoav Shamir's documentary 'Defamation'.

For anyone who's not seen it, this is a young film maker from Israel looking at anti-semitism and how the Holocaust is represented in his own country, and in the rest of the world.

It's fairly uncomfortable viewing because he does follow Finkelsteins argument that there is a kind of industry perpetuating a certain view of the Holocaust. He even finds some quite scary examples of people assuming that they are being attacked on the grounds of their religion when they are clearly not (unless the film maker has chosen shots to highlight a selective viewpoint.) On the other hand, he uncovers some very real and very disturbing examples of anti-semitism, and IMHO, Finklestein comes across very poorly.

This is not a film which offers any answers and it's certainly not comfortable to watch. But it's made me question a lot about how and why I teach this topic - particularly my insistance that students have an emotional connection with what they are seeing. There's quite a frightening sequence where the cameras follow a school party around a concentration camp, and the students are clearly very upset - but because they DON'T get it. They don't feel anything - and they are convinced that they should.

I'd recommend this for all teachers to see, but my own feeling is that it would be far too complex for use in the class-room. And that the topics it's dealing with are more to do with modern politics and media studies than history. I'd be interested to hear what other people think of this film.

#2 Alex Ford

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Posted 18 February 2012 - 09:36 PM

am particularly interested in the concentration camp element here. Took two students to Auschwitz a few years back....one got very upset. Am convinces that this was because the reality did not live up to what her conditioned expectations had been. Most interesting comment I heard recently "People say that the birds don't sing in Auschwitz, that is a lie, they do....and that is perhaps the most disturbing part." Have long wondered about the idea that kids have to see and appreciate the suffering of the holocaust....as if this is ever possible.

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#3 Seb Phillips

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Posted 19 February 2012 - 10:23 AM

Theres an expectation that when you present students with an emotional experience, they will react somehow. It's particularly highlighted here because obviously, with children from Israel, there's an even greater expectation that they will be moved by what they see. I get the impression that the guides specifically try to 'break' certain students who aren't responsive.

And also, we do occasionally trot out the same myths without thinking. I've said that thing about 'the birds not singing' in my classroom, and I've been corrected by students who have been there.

Big topic. Thought provoking film.




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