As we walked through the difficult process of what it must've been like to be a Jew during the Holocaust. The students left with a deeper understanding of the ghetto, the train to the camps, and the camps themselves. What I tried to do through this process was not "recreate" something for them that we obviously will never be able to fully understand, but simply have them come up with characters, create families, and homes, and then begin to imagine a life in which those things might suddenly be taken away without cause. The objective being: what are the signs of this type of power/abuse? How does it feel to be on the other side of it? And how can we make sure this type of prejudice never happens again? The students truly opened up not only verbally, but through journal-ling and in small groups.
Days 1-2 Creation of Characters and establishment of the ghetto.
Why do all of this ritual and create strict rules? It establishes a sense of routine in the town. It brings about a rhythm of structure that is reliable so that when the soldiers come in and say:
Get your things. you're being relocated to a different part of the city...not another word out of you or I'll make you shut up, you hear me?
The rhythm is thrown off - some of them got to stay in their houses, and others had to move. That effected these students tremendously.
"It was interesting. It made me wonder what I would do if I was ever put in that situation.It helped me understand what happens to these people. Thank you!"- 10th grader
"This experience was weird. It was kinda cool to get more hands-on experience of what it was like in the camps. But overall I thought it was fun to create a character and become a part of a story." -10th GrAde
“The arts can inform us about the past while allowing us to envision a different future” Kathleen Gallagher.
I had the pleasure of working on Elie Wiesel's Night for the past two months with a group of 10th graders. It was a hard yet wonderfully rewarding experience. I look forward to posting some of our wok on this section of the blog. I felt like that Gallagher quote really summed up the experience for us. We used Art to not only process through what happened in that story, but to envision a better future for the world we live in now. We had some beautiful reflective conversations after each session, pertaining to our classroom, school, and world, and how we can take from this process and "envision a different future."