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AUG 14, 2012

CSULB holds training workshop on teaching the Holocaust

CSULB holds training workshop on teaching the Holocaust

By Kelly Puente Staff

Posted: 08/09/2012 06:32:27 PM PDT

August 10, 2012 4:20 AM GMTUpdated: 08/09/2012 09:17:52 PM PDT

LONG BEACH - Educating children about a sensitive subject like the Holocaust can be a difficult task for teachers, said high school history teacher Kerrin Conroy.

"You want to get the kids interested and teach it in a way that makes it real for them, but you don't always get the time to delve deep into these subjects," said Conroy, a 10th- and 11th-grade history teacher at St. Matthias High School in Downey.

On Thursday, Conroy was one of about two dozen teachers hoping to deepen their knowledge of the Holocaust in a special teacher workshop at Cal State Long Beach.

Holocaust education is a state standard that is usually taught in the 10th and 11th grades.

The annual workshop, now in its third year, was designed by Cal State Long Beach professor Jeff Blutinger to help K-12 teachers gain a better understanding of the Holocaust and improve the way they teach the Nazi genocide to students.

The workshop is a free, weeklong intensive-training course that features talks from Holocaust survivors, lectures and a visit to the Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust. Teachers receive a $100 stipend and up to two units of service credit.

Blutinger said the idea for the workshop came from local Holocaust survivor Gerda Seifer, who approached the CSULB Jewish Studies Program in 2009 with the initial donation.

Each year, the workshop features a different theme, such as "Children in the Holocaust," and "Art and the Holocaust."

This year's theme, "Human Responses to the Holocaust: Victims, Perpetrators, Bystanders and Deniers," focused on the experiences of those affected by the genocide. The workshop looked at not only the victims, but also the thoughts and feelings of the bystanders who watched as millions were marched off to death camps.

Blutinger, a history professor, noted that the majority of people in Europe neither helped nor hindered the Nazis.

"It's hard for me to understand the indifference," he said.

Conroy, the Downey teacher, said the workshop gave him a deeper understanding of the people whose lives were changed by the Holocaust. This school year, he plans give his Holocaust lessons a more personal touch by focusing on the victims and survivors.

"I think it will help students connect on a more personal level," he said., 562-714-2181,