Study finds most teachers in England lack basic knowledge to teach about the Holocaust

Study finds alarming lack of knowledge about the Holocaust, even among teachers who teach the subject.

Dan Verbin ,

Holocaust. Auschwitz concentration camp
Holocaust. Auschwitz concentration camp
iStock

A new report has found that most teachers in England lack the basic knowledge required to properly teach about the Holocaust, BBC News reported.

The study conducted by the University College London (UCL) Centre for Holocaust Education found that while there have been improvements since a similar study took place in 2009, there is still a wholesale lack of factual knowledge, with researchers sounding the alarm about the “real-world consequences” of their findings.

The researchers found an alarming lack of knowledge of even basic facts about the Holocaust.

According to the study, most teachers did not know where or when the Holocaust began, and did have an understanding of the size of the Jewish community in Germany in 1933. Less than half were familiar with the British government’s response upon learning of the extermination of European Jewry.

More surprisingly, nearly a fifth of teachers who had recently taught about the Holocaust had not received any formal or specialized training on the subject.

The findings revealed that students could easily “[develop a] skewed and fundamentally erroneous impressions of this period,” said UCL associate professor Andy Pearce.

"As a society, we should have no tolerance for misunderstandings, myths and mythologies about the Holocaust,” Pearce told the BBC. "That can be a breeding ground for conspiracy theories and for revisionism and for denial and distortion.”

The study polled focus groups and surveyed 1,077 teachers, out of which 964 had recently taught about the Holocaust.

The study’s outcome left Association of School and College Leaders general secretary Geoff Barton worried.

He said that with schools and teachers facing a “huge number of pressures on their time in a crowded curriculum,” they have to deal with “many competing priorities.”

"There is a wider need for the government to work with the education sector to review the many expectations on schools to make this situation more manageable,” he told the BBC.



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