In 2020, the Minister for Education directed the Department of Education and Training (DET) to ensure that all Victorian government secondary schools were teaching the Holocaust at Levels 9/10 History. This announcement was designed to ensure that Victorian government school students had an opportunity to learn the lessons of the Holocaust, and that Victorian government schools played their part in reversing the growth in racism and antisemitism in our society.
To support schools to begin teaching or strengthening their teaching of the Holocaust, the DET worked with our museum, Gandel Foundation and nearly a dozen organisations to develop new and refreshed teaching and learning resources – including our teacher professional learning program-aligned with the Victorian curriculum.
In 2021, we launched the teacher professional learning program to support Victorian schools in delivering mandated Holocaust education to students in year levels 9 and 10. It is currently free for all government secondary schools and offers maximum flexibility to suit the needs of different teaching teams.
The innovative program ensures teachers have the knowledge, pedagogy and confidence to teach the Holocaust meaningfully and safely. In addition, the skills that teachers gained from this professional learning program are transferable to other subjects containing challenging topics and culturally sensitive issues.
WHAT TEACHERS ARE SAYING ABOUT THE PROFESSIONAL LEARNING PROGRAM
“The session was perfect in developing our Holocaust curriculum. It provided more than enough resources, but also a wonderful pedagogical approach to introducing the material to the students, and then the delivery.” South Oakleigh Secondary College
“Our team found working with you last year through the program incredibly valuable, as we build our senior history curriculum here at Preston.” Preston High School
“It was one of the more rewarding PDs I’ve done in recent memory, and we’ve already planned a solid 3–4 week unit of work for next year in the history faculty.” Melbourne High School
ST ALBANS SECONDARY COLLEGE
St Albans Secondary College traditionally only offered history as an elective and had never attended our education program. With their Holocaust education restricted to several classes a year, St Albans wanted to take steps to improve their knowledge and skills following the announcement for mandated Holocaust education in 2020.
Jill Donaldson, Head of Humanities worked on a policy change making Year 10 history a compulsory subject, leading them to becoming the first school to complete our teacher professional learning program. Six teachers enrolled to help with the transition to Holocaust education and grow their experience in this subject matter.
“It definitely has encouraged our teaching team to rethink how we teach the unit,” said St Albans humanities teacher Emily Simoes, “particularly about the message we want to teach the students.”
In 2022, they have successfully taught the Holocaust to their entire year 10 cohort equipped with the confidence they are delivering a meaningful learning experience in line with the government requirements.
Brunswick Secondary College had long offered a Holocaust-focussed elective supported by a strong cohort of humanities teachers. They also had a longstanding relationship with the MHM, often attending excursions at the museum.
When transitioning to a compulsory three-week Holocaust course, they needed additional support, including upskilling teachers who had not yet taught a Holocaust elective. Their Head of Learning (Humanities), Dr Marianne Hicks proposed our teacher professional learning program, which garnered an enthusiastic response from teachers and principal alike.
“The idea of it was very meaningful and purposeful,” Dr Hicks said – but it was also practical! The teacher professional learning program provided a hurdle free offering to match their enthusiasm: cost and time taken care of with 60-minute sessions provided free to DET schools. Working toward a common goal, non-history teachers overcame challenges of a new and complex topic, while history teachers improved their pedagogy with new resources and approaches.
The course translated into the classroom, according to Dr Hicks, with teacher’s saying their improved pedagogy, “provided students with far more autonomy.” Now teachers are assured they are delivering quality Holocaust education for the 3-week Holocaust unit at the beginning of an elective subject before they move onto their specialty subject matter for the remainder of the term.
To find out more about enrolling in our teacher professional learning program, visit: learn.jhc.org.au