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'Why are we learning this?' Does studying the Holocaust encourage better citizenship values?: preliminary findings from Scotland

Maitles, Henry and Cowan, Paula (2008) 'Why are we learning this?' Does studying the Holocaust encourage better citizenship values?: preliminary findings from Scotland. Genocide Studies and Prevention, 3 (3). pp. 341-352. ISSN 1911-0359

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Abstract

The relationship between learning about the Holocaust and the development of positive values may seem common sense but in reality there is a complex level of development and understanding. This research (which was sponsored by the Scottish Government) was designed to ascertain whether learning about the Holocaust impacts on young people's general citizenship values and attitudes; does learning about the Holocaust allow them to extrapolate from the events of the Holocaust to present day issues, such as racism and discrimination. The research followed a cohort of approximately 100 pupils (aged 11-12) who had studied the Holocaust and compared their values one year later both in comparison to their earlier attitudes and compared to their peers who had not studied the Holocaust. This paper reports the findings. As we might expect, the results were not always as predicted, particularly when it came to the pupils understanding of anti-Semitism or genocide; in general though, our core group had maintained more positive values than they had before their lessons on the Holocaust and were more positive than their peers.