Geography in the Holocaust: citizenship denied

Teaching History article

By David Lambert, published 31st August 2004

In this article David Lambert argues powerfully for teachers of the humanities to place citizenship at the centre of their work. He seeks to demonstrate that the division between subject-boundaries needs to be broken through if students are not to be denied what they are entitled to: an understanding of what it is to be human. Lambert argues that geography in schools has not, traditionally, been seen as having much of a part to play in achieving this. By examining the Holocaust, perhaps the most extreme example of human brutality of the twentieth century, he makes the point that all subjects have something to contribute to the wider goals of education. Until now, the Holocaust has been located in time, but not in space: Lambert shows how this lost dimension can be restored by focussing on the human geography of the genocide. Ultimately, of course, such an approach raises fundamental questions with which all teachers need to deal. What, he asks, is the purpose of teaching? ‘When we plan lessons,’ he writes, ‘we have in mind the kind of individuals we are trying to nurture and develop.’

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