CLTV: Holocaust and Human Behavior

Posted by Mary Hendra on August 12, 2015

This month Facing History is the featured partner on Connected Learning TV for the series, Creating Upstanders in Today’s World. We are publishing the recorded webinars here with additional resources.

In this webinar, our knowledgeable panel guests dive into the core case study of Facing History and Ourselves: The Holocaust and Human Behavior.

Annie Brown set the stage by sharing what a "Facing History classroom" looks like when studying the Holocaust. The lens of human behavior brings a universality to the message, giving students space to connect to it personally even if they do not come from a Jewish background themselves. Annie shared that her students are so engaged, some even cite it as their favorite unit of the year, because they care about the individuals whose experiences and choices are shared during this unit. Dr. Michael Berenbaum highlighted that the Holocaust should not be thought of as an abnormality, but a reflection of Western civilization, and therefore the study of it is an opportunity to shape our collective humanity. Elaine Guarnieri-Nunn and Dan Alba spoke of the power for students in understanding the individual steps that led to dismantling democracy and collective violence, reflecting on their own choices big and small, and exploring the role of belonging in society.

I loved hearing the stories each guest shared of upstanders in the time leading up to and during the Holocaust. These individuals inspire while also complicating a single narrative of what it means to stand up. Their choices were both tough and straightforward. Michael reminded us that for many, they were simply trying to be "decent"; they weren't looking to be extraordinary. It is easy to see how these personal stories hold on to students' attention and stimulate thinking about our own choices today.



Dr. Michael Berenbaum is the director of the Sigi Ziering Institute, which explores the ethical and religious implications of the Holocaust, and has been a professor of Jewish studies at American Jewish University (AJU) since 2002. He is a writer, lecturer, and teacher consulting in the conceptual development of museums and the development of historical films.

Annie Brown teaches at Marlborough School in Southern California, and is a member of the LA Facing History Teacher Leadership Team.

Dan Alba taught for 16 years in LAUSD and has taught educators at Facing History for the past 20 years, marking over 36 years teaching the Holocaust and Human Behavior case study as well as other Facing History curricula.

Elaine Guarnieri-Nunn, Director of the San Francisco Bay Area office of Facing History, taught the Holocaust and Human Behavior case study for students and teachers in LAUSD and in Northern California, and now guides the work of Facing History in Northern California.

Additional resources noted in the webinar:

And a few additional readings, reflecting on the choices made by ordinary individuals:

Annie mentioned Sir Nicholas Winton and the rescue of children. Here are several resources in relation to that topic:


Click here to see this webinar on CLTV and how others have responded on Twitter.

Watch the first webinar in this series, Creating a Safe and Reflective Classroom.

Tune in next week for our third webinar in this series, "Race, Class, and Gender in To Kill a Mockingbird," Monday, August 17, 2015 at 11:30am CA time.

Topics: Holocaust and Human Behavior, CLTV

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