History has its beautiful parts, but it also comprises dark details full of tragedy, such as slavery, bubonic plague, and concentration camps. This can be a complex topic to bring up to children, and you should know how to do it without creating fear in them.
Here are five sensitive ways to educate children:
Concentrate On What Is Familiar
Tragedy is a complicated topic, and it makes it even harder if you try to distill the essential parts when explaining it to children. Introduce the subject from a known light while you go to the unknown. Start by reassuring the children that they are safe and all will be safe. By starting by focusing on the resolution first, the children will put the tragedy in perspective.
For example, when talking about the September 11 attack with children, you can start by showing them September 11 picture books to offer them a general perspective of the events. You can now begin from there to explain to them who was involved, what happened during the September 11 attack, and why it is important to our history.
Visualize The Statistics
Help the children understand statistics by presenting them comparatively and creatively. It is hard to visualize a population of six million people. However, you can conceptualize the moment of silence for people who lost their lives tragically.
You can use the minute of silence ideology and ask the children to calculate how long it would take to pay the respect the 6 million Jews who died in Holocaust deserve. As devastating as it is, the answer will help the children visualize the statistics of Jews that were lost that day.
The impact will have on the children will not be the same as if the figures were drawn on a graph. You can also create a more compelling data visualization through animated and interactive graphics.
Make The Subject Human
Try and discuss with the children the tragedy at an individual level. While statistics are very significant, they do not reveal a human perspective. Thus you need vital sources such as memoirs, diaries, and letters.
If possible, you can source letters written firsthand by the casualties. You will find them to be emotionally rich and will significantly help in picturing how the situation was. Secondary sources like literature and poetry can help in educating children sensitively.
Establish The Right Tone When Educating Children
Set the appropriate mood in a class before you start teaching about sensitive matters like death and other tragic events. It is critical for you as an educator to set the right curricular decisions, tone, and body language. You can follow the helpful guide list for educators teaching on Holocaust.
The guidelines are found in the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. The list contains relevant material you can use on other tragic topics. Some of the museum policies include contextualizing the sad history and converting the statistics into people. Another vital guideline on the list was avoiding comparison of pains.
Comparing tragedies can lead to offensive and insensitive conclusions. And that will be an injustice to the victims and lives lost in that tragedy. For example, it is okay to educate your learners on the differences between North American slavery and institutions in the Caribbean.
However, it would help if you were keen lest your students assume that slavery in North America was not as worse as it was. When creating comparisons while teaching on tragedy, generate a discussion or ask your students questions but do not draw definitive conclusions.
Remember The Lives Of The Children
Do not forget the unique and diverse experiences your learners may have gone through. Children who have close relations with victims of a tragedy or experienced a personal loss due to a tragedy can prove to be very sensitive to topics concerning disasters.
Chances can be high that you may fail to know of the experiences they have faced when preparing to educate on tragedy and death, put in mind some general questions that may arise from the children on the subject matter.
When talking about tragedy, whether an ancient tragedy or a recent one, death will always be an unfortunate subject in history class. Thus, it would be best if you were always keen to treat the issue of death sensitively.