There are a number of benefits to a school trip to Auschwitz for both teachers and students, and a visit to the site will be a fundamentally important part of a school pupil’s journey.
The Holocaust is a compulsory part of the national curriculum, and it can be a challenging subject to approach in terms of teaching strategies. However, it also presents a great opportunity for learning outside of the classroom. Visiting arguably the period’s most important historic site is a unique and rewarding way in which to teach contemporary ethics, politics and the manifold tragedies of World War Two.
Preparing The Class
A school trip to Auschwitz is a valuable undertaking for teachers, and as well as the great advice we can give you at The School Travel Company, there are some important pre-trip preparations that make the journey all the more educationally enriching.
One of the best ways to encourage students before a visit to such a special place is to engage them with related materials beforehand. Classroom teaching on the role played by Auschwitz in history is an important way to allow the class to see the significance of the unique place they will soon be visiting. Preparing the students in this way will give them the tools they need to appreciate the solemn and unique sights as they take a tour around the concentration camp.
Being prepared for the sheer size and drama of what is to be found at the memorial is also a great way of planning for the trip. With a lot of ground to cover once you arrive, and a huge array of historic artefacts to absorb, it can be a really good use of time to get the basics out of the way beforehand, leaving your students free to soak in the weight of meaning during their visit.
Top Tip: to engage your students further, why not discuss appropriate ways of commemorating the victims on your visit?
Although a solemn and important historical site, a school trip to Auschwitz is also a deeply rewarding and interesting experience. These are just a few of the ways in which you and your students can get the most from the visit.
The tours that pupils can undertake at the site are a useful educational tool. Guides will explain in great detail the roles played at the various locations around the area. You can speak with The School Travel Company about the specific educational routes that your class will follow, but broadly speaking, the tour covers the most important aspects of the concentration camp, including the shocking history of the exterminations. You will visit and see first-hand the living conditions of the victims, as well as the sites where some of the most atrocious war crimes ever committed took place. Although it can be shocking, contextualising the material in an educational way can make it a very valuable experience.
The onsite museum also displays a vast collection that the students will find engaging and interesting in equal measure. The museum tour guides are excellent and deliver very captivating lessons which will make the classes you lead on the subject once you’re back in the classroom that much more rewarding..
Top Tip: visit the cinema hall for a short documentary about the liberation of the camp.
Revisiting the Memorial
A school trip to Auschwitz does not have to end when you return home with the class. Such is the power of a visit to one of the most significant places in human history that it will remain in the young minds of your students for a long time after.
Then and Now
One of the ways in which this visit is so useful is for the parallels that you will be able to draw between then and now. For a contemporary study of ethics and xenophobia, the concentration camp can be an eye-opening experience for students. Although the trip can be emotional, the benefits of it are numerous when considering the way in which it will allow students to position themselves in the modern world, as well as giving perspective on the years that followed the end of the war. It provides a uniquely comprehensive way of looking at history and the present day, which is what makes a school trip to Auschwitz unlike any other educational travel experience.
The visit itself is an important experience for anybody who undertakes it, and that will include you as a teacher, but the importance of the trip can truly be realised back in the classroom. Seeing this monument in person will give the students the ability to apply their lessons to a number of different subject areas, making a school trip to Auschwitz inimitable as far as educational tours go. Whether to art, literature, history, geography, citizenship, the educational benefits of this visit are impossible to overstate.
Planning a visit to perhaps the most important site in recent history is something that can be daunting to any teacher or trip organiser, but it is undoubtedly extremely worthwhile. If it sounds like your students would benefit from this exceptional educational experience, then get in touch with The School Travel Company, and see how we can help you make this an unforgettable journey. Your students will learn in new ways about topics that are difficult to cover, and can even enjoy the other fascinating sites in and around Krakow, including The Jewish Quarter, The Schindler Factory, and The Wieliczka Salt Mine.