“I entered a door and other doors opened up”: ITeach Launches in Hungary

Thu, 03/06/2014 - 4:31pm

Hungarian educators were enthusiastic about learning new methods for teaching with video testimony at USC Shoah Foundation’s first ITeach teacher education seminar last week.

The seminar – the first ITeach program to be held anywhere in the world – was organized in cooperation with local educational NGO Zachor Foundation and the Research Institute for Education Development. It hosted 27 participants on March 1 at Bocskai István High School in Hajdúböszörmény, which is a partner school of the USC Shoah Foundation.

Unlike USC Shoah Foundation’s Teaching with Testimony in the 21st Century program, in which the Institute’s international consultants and liaisons instruct local teachers in the use of testimony in the classroom over the course of a year, ITeach is a one-day seminar, and it is led completely by presenters who are or were practicing classroom teachers. The seminar includes an introduction to USC Shoah Foundation’s educational programs, the Visual History Archive, methodology, social psychology and pedagogical theory and the introduction of a testimony-based lesson a teacher has already developed.

“An innovative element is that we invite one graduate of our Teaching with Testimony program who developed a strong lesson and ask her to present not only the lesson but also her classroom experiences,” said Andrea Szőnyi, senior international training consultant based in Hungary. “This way, the participants can meet a real teacher just like themselves, who has real experience with the material.”

In addition, ITeach is intended for smaller or more remote communities so that teachers outside large cities – where Teaching with Testimony and other professional development programs are usually held – can attend.

Participants of the March 1 seminar arrived from several towns in the region and included teachers of history, literature, language arts, media, ethics, drama and even mathematics and physics.

At the beginning of the seminar, principal of the school Sándor Gyulai greeted the participants.

“We have to do everything we can in order to preserve the memory of this community, of the people once living here, among us. We have to educate our students towards understanding and acceptance. I am more and more convinced that instead of theories, ideas and ideology we have to present them people, human fates. There are human beings. There is no humanity,’ says Dr. Moviszter in the novel by Hungarian author Dezső Kosztolányi,” Gyulai said. “If our students learn to see the individual and value the human being in the other, it will be more difficult to make them turn against one another.”

Presentations by Aletta Forrás-Biró, USC Shoah Foundation consultant and lecturer at Hungarian university ELTE, and Szőnyi included theory and practice as well as discussions about opportunities and challenges. Júlia Tóth, a teacher from the host school and a graduate of Teaching with Testimony in the 21st Century, presented the lesson she developed, piloted and has been using in her classroom education.

Participants expressed great interest and eagerness in learning about new approaches, methods and pedagogical tools they can use in Holocaust and Anti-Bias Education like using video-testimonies in the class and new developments like USC Shoah Foundation online educational platform IWitness which can be used to develop media and digital literacies.

Tecahers said they received new perspectives and ideas that they can constructively build in their educational work. “I entered a door and other doors opened up,” one teacher said at the conclusion of the program.

The series of ITeach seminars in Hungary continued on Tuesday in Székesfehérvár at Zoltán Kodály Elementary, Middle and High School, another USC Shoah Foundation partner school, with 22 participants from the region. ITeach seminars are currently planned for 11 locations throughout Hungary and even across the border in Subotica, Serbia.