Working Group of the International Task Force on Holocaust Education, Research
Guidelines for Study Trips to Holocaust-Related Authentic Sites and
(Museums, Memorials, and Centers)
- Visits to authentic and non-authentic sites
create special learning experiences and opportunities different from those
in the classroom. A visit can also raise the “status” of a subject in
the eyes of students who see that they have been taken out of school and out
of other subjects in order to make the visit.
- Authentic sites provide a unique atmosphere,
which can create a special desire to learn and which evokes strong emotions.
It is the duty of the educator to be aware that they will be exposing their
students to these strong emotions and to take this into account when
structuring the visit.
- Authentic sites provide opportunities for
in-depth study of particular places and moments in time.
- It is difficult for museums to reproduce the
emotional impact that comes from a visit to an authentic site; however,
students are less likely to be overwhelmed by the strength of their feelings
and might be able to see the broader historical context.
- The opportunity to study original artifacts
can stimulate interest, motivation, and learning and can provide a direct
and tangible link with people in the past that is difficult to replicate in
- The educator has a responsibility to the
students and should be sure that a visit to an authentic site or museum is
appropriate for the age of their students. It is essential that the educator
consult with the staff of the authentic site or museum on this matter.
- A visit to an authentic site or to a museum
should not be considered in and of itself to be sufficient in a study of the
Holocaust. The educator must be clear about the aims of a visit to an
authentic site or museum. How will it complement, extend, and develop
- It is essential that the visit is carefully
planned and that the educator contacts the site for advice when preparing
the visit. Ideally, educators will make a preliminary visit and/or attend
teacher-training seminars related to bringing students on a study trip to
- The educator must consider when a study trip
occurs in the broader scheme of work for teaching the Holocaust, and how it
is integrated with work in the classroom. The study trip requires
preparation, the visit itself, and follow-up activities. These activities
should have a clear emphasis on learning the history of the Holocaust, but
might be enriched by an inter-disciplinary approach.
- The site should recognize its responsibility
to provide educators with advice, information, and materials for preparation
and follow-up lessons in the classroom, and the educator should allocate
sufficient time for these activities.
- The preparation must make clear that an
authentic site is a memorial with its own history, and that a visit to that
site can involve learning not only about the past but also how that past has
been remembered and commemorated.
- A visit to an authentic site should focus on
the history of that site. Students should actively use the site as
historical evidence to explore themes and issues that were discussed during
the pre-visit work. The visit should not be seen as only an opportunity to
answer these historical questions, but as a stimulus for new historical,
moral, and ethical questions.
- Most students are unused to learning from
museums and authentic sites and many will not have the learning skills
necessary for these environments. Therefore, the museum and the authentic
site should facilitate students’ learning during the visit by helping
students to interpret the displays. This should take into account students’
ages, different learning needs, and varying degrees of knowledge. This might
include the provision of orientation and/or debriefing sessions, guided
tours, worksheets, audio guides, etc.
- The educator should encourage discussion and
reflection at the site as an integral part of the visit and the authentic
site or museum should provide space and time to make this possible.
- The follow-up work should respond to the
questions raised by the students as a result of the study trip and help them
to place what they have learned during the visit into a broader context.