The International Center for Education about Auschwitz and the Holocaust organized the second round of workshops, December 12th to the 13th, 2012, for tour guides and museum educators from across Poland at the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum.
This year’s workshops were prepared and organized with the thought of the work done by guides at historical museums and its role in learning as well as understanding memorial sites, including education about the Holocaust and the crime of genocide.
The participants also touched upon other important matters, which are inseparable from the work that they perform. This included, among others, defining the multifaceted nature of museums and memorial sites as well as the level at which these places are understood, increasing the professionalism of the work by the tour guide in the areas of historical knowledge and educational skills, the specificities of memorial museums as well as authentic historical sites where at the present day relics and remnants associated with the Holocaust are found to this day.
Most attention was focused on the questions associated with the specifics of the work by tour guides who work in museums and memorial sites. The discussion touched upon, among others, the educational tips, elaborated last year, whose goal is the development, both professional as well as of the effectiveness in transmitting historical knowledge and the narrative provided by the guide during tours of museums and memorial sites.
The participants of the workshop brought up during the discussions one of the educational currents of history relating to the traumatic experiences of the Second World War, which is the methodology of remembrance. Its main objective — other than presenting the basic knowledge of a certain historical site — is to initiate reflection about the sources of the evils within society in the contemporary context. Thanks to this, individuals visiting Museums are able to learn about history as well as develop their abilities of noticing phenomena, within their own environments, which include: racism, anti-Semitism, and intolerance against the backdrop of religion and ethics.
The main focus of the meeting was to cooperate in the creation of a set of rules and tips relating to the proper manner in guiding at museums and memorial sites, which in the future will assist in the creation of a document — a starting point for further discussion on the subject of pedagogical work of memorial sites. Professional guiding through museums-memorial sites is not only to serve out popular knowledge, but it is help in the building a connection for communication between the visitor and the historical site, understood as a tacit reflection about this history as well as the contemporary world.
Through the effects of the lecturers, the work done, and the exchange of ideas, a general outline of rules from the discussion has been formulated, in which the expectations toward the guides and their work is presented.
The International Center for Education about Auschwitz and the Holocaust at the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum is the creator and organizer of these workshops.
The first workshops were organized in December 2010. All Polish museums, memorial sites, and educational institutions dealing with subject of genocide and the Holocaust were invited to cooperate in this project — and additionally Yad Vashem of Jerusalem, Israel. The yearly meetings of museum educators have the goal of taking on a debate on the subject of the methodology of remembrance as well as its practical use in the work of tour guides. In the understanding of the methodology of remembrance, educational work at institutions, which commemorate the victims of Nazi crimes, is above all a process of discovery and reflection, which connects the emotional sphere linked with learning about history at authentic historical sites and asking questions from the perspective of supporting a culture of democracy.
According to the initiators an active commemoration and knowledge about history can have a vitally important social and educational function, which influences the building of a young generation that is historically aware, while supporting its participation in discussions about difficult past and contemporary issues.