Using current events as discussion points for teaching and learning history

Using current events as discussion points for learning history

Today the press informs us the the worlds oldest known Holocaust survivor has passed away (aged 110). Alice Herz-Sommer and her son were sent to the Theresienstadt concentration camp during World War II, surviving both her mother and husband. (link to article – published and accessed Monday 24 February 2014)

In Year 10 Australian History, students are asked to study the following:

An examination of significant events of World War II, including the Holocaust and use of the atomic bomb. (Link to Australian Curriculum here)

History is often seen as solely studying the past but we can look to current media reports as mediums for source analysis and reflection. This link provides a number of activities for teachers of history to incorporate into their history classroom including but not limited to:

  • You have been asked my a member of Alice Herz-Sommer’s family describe her experiences in Theresienstadt concentration camp. Conduct online research into the camp and write a description of the camp during World War II;
  • Write a diary entry as Alice Herz-Sommer during her time at the Theresienstadt concentration camp;
  • Discuss the impact of the death of Alice on our understanding of the experiences of Holocaust victims during World War II;
  • Assess the article as a secondary resource. Is it factual? How useful and accurate is the article? Can we rely on it for our historical analysis of the Holocaust.
  • While researching online, describe and analyse two websites for their usefulness and reliability as sources for our study of the Holocaust in World War II.

Note: Remember to scaffold the analysis of sources for students in this task. 

Historical Skills:

Identify and locate relevant sources, using ICT and other methods

Identify the origin, purpose and context of primary and secondary sources

Evaluate the reliability and usefulness of primary and secondary sources

Identify and analyse the perspectives of people from the past


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