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The March of Remembrance and Hope: Teaching and Learning About Diversity and Social Justice Through the Holocaust

by Elizabeth Spalding, Todd A. Savage & Jesus Garcia - 2007

Background: Experiential learning has been posited as an approach to influencing preservice teachers’ understanding of diversity and social justice. The research reported here examined the impact of a field-based experience in Poland focused on the Holocaust as it pertained to the beliefs and actions of 12 future education professionals. This program, the March of Remembrance and Hope (MRH), took place in Poland in May 2003; the pretrip preparation occurred in January–May 2003 at a large southeastern university. Five of the participants were preservice teachers, and 7 were graduate students in either counseling psychology or school psychology. The MRH is an international interfaith trip to Holocaust sites in Poland, sponsored by the March of the Living, Israel. The MRH educates participants, primarily Gentiles, about the Holocaust and the dangers of intolerance and racism.

Purpose of Study: The authors are teacher educators committed to multicultural teacher education and teaching about social justice. Thus, we generated the following questions to guide this research: (1) How did the experience of the MRH influence participants’ knowledge of, attitudes about, and actions regarding diversity? (2) How, if at all, did participants connect the MRH experience to issues of social justice?

Research Design: Three case studies, exemplars of the impact of this experience, are presented and discussed in relation to the literature on effective multicultural teacher education, experiential education, and Holocaust education.

Conclusions: Results indicated that the MRH had a significant effect on the thinking and actions of students related to diversity and social justice. If the goal of multicultural education is to facilitate changes in future education professionals’ knowledge, beliefs, and actions, then it is important to take note of the aspects of the MRH experience that so affected Silas, Rachel, and Penny, the students described in the case studies. The literature on teacher education for diversity indicates that traditional approaches to multicultural education have minimal long-term impact. By contrast, the effects of the MRH took time to process and, as of this writing, appear not to have faded over time. And, although the academic preparation was critical to their understanding of the Holocaust, the authentic experience of the MRH had the greatest impact on these students’ thinking about diversity and their willingness to take action against social injustice.

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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 109 Number 6, 2007, p. 1423-1456
https://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 13136, Date Accessed: 7/31/2021 10:20:30 PM

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About the Author
  • Elizabeth Spalding
    University of Nevada, Las Vegas
    E-mail Author
    ELIZABETH SPALDING is an associate professor in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Her research interests include performance and portfolio assessment, learning communities in teacher education, and secondary English teaching and teachers. Recent publications include: E. Spalding, T. A. Savage, & J. Garcia, “The March of Remembrance and Hope: The Effects of a Holocaust Education Experience on Preservice Teachers’ Thinking About Diversity,” Multicultural Education (2003); and E. Spalding & A. Wilson, “Demystifying Reflection: A Study of Pedagogical Strategies That Encourage Reflective Journal Writing,” Teachers College Record (2002).
  • Todd Savage
    New Mexico State University
    E-mail Author
    TODD A. SAVAGE is an assistant professor and the director of training for the program in school psychology at New Mexico State University. His research interests include culture and culturally responsive practice in education and psychology, cooperative learning, and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender issues as they impact the learning environment. Recent publications include: T. A. Savage, D. A. Harley, & T. M. Nowak, “Applying social empowerment strategies as tools for self-advocacy in counseling lesbian and gay male clients,” Journal of Counseling and Development (2005); and T. A. Savage, E. C. Arroyos-Jurado, C. L. Nero, & E. G. Vázquez, “Applying a Culturally Responsive Paradigm to the Field of School Psychology: A Framework for Practice and Training, School Psychology Trainers’ Forum (2004).
  • Jesus Garcia
    University of Nevada, Las Vegas
    E-mail Author
    JESUS GARCIA is a professor in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas and immediate past president of the National Council for the Social Studies. His research interests include the portrayal of societal groups in social studies materials, multicultural education, and social studies methods. Recent publications “Presidential Address—Democracy and Diversity: Social Studies in Action,” Social Education (2005); and “Multicultural Education in Social Studies,” Social Education (2002).
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