On Wednesday, we had the pleasure of welcoming Darius Jackson from the University College London (UCL) Holocaust Centre. Darius works with teachers on the various professional development programmes provided by the UCL Centre for Holocaust Education. He also oversees the Initial Teacher Education programme offered by the Centre. However, we were very lucky to receive his last ever training session this week. Darius retires early next week, so we wish him well for his retirement and thank him for the extensive work he has done on behalf of the school as our Holocaust Beacon School Mentor.
This session hosted by the History Department is one of the many “Shine” sessions we run for students interested in learning more about history and expanding their knowledge. Keep an eye out for our next one in May with Dr Tara Hamling from the University of Birmingham!
Darius’ session centered on how we have interpreted and represented Anne Frank. From bored school girl to romantic teenager, interpretations of Anne (which would have been pronounced Anna) have varied greatly from country to country and era to era. This was a real surprise for students and staff alike, as some major misconceptions emerge from these interpretations.
His talk explored the role of Anne Frank’s diary and how we use/explore it today. Darius stated ‘The Diary of Anne Frank’ is often used as a ‘way in’ to studying the Holocaust. The representations generated from this highlight the tensions that exist between the popular ideas about Anne Frank and what she actually wrote. Students then began to unpick these misconceptions and representations as we learnt more and more about Anne. We created a timeline looking at her own life but also the wider context in Netherlands but then the wider Nazi Germany timeline.
Students were amazed:
I can’t believe she wasn’t even Dutch!
I’m still shocked at how she was presented so soon after the Holocaust. They try and make it into a love story!
How complex the story is. They did loads to try and get away in the first place. I would have never known or referred to Anne as a refugee before.
This session highlighted the problems of representations and how it is vital in any modern society that we challenge the interpretations by going back to historical “fact”. This will prove vital for students as they battle an ever changing society, where (with situations like Brexit), history is used as a tool to justify today’s actions.