The challenge for most school teachers working through a History syllabus will probably always remain the same; how do you bring history out of the abstract and really grab the imagination and understanding of your students? Most teachers will agree that educational visits to historic sites are a gift in regards to reaching young minds. The Anne Frank Museum in Amsterdam is just such a gift. The important message of the realities of war, seen through the eyes of a peer, is just about the most impactful way of supplementing a student’s introduction to World War II.
The importance of these educational visits as supplements to the history curriculum should not be underestimated, and the refreshing change of pace for students and educators can make the excursion the highlight of the year.
Teachers agree – especially those who specialise in history – that teaching future generations about the errors of our past is paramount in the effort not to repeat them. World War II brought to light a number of horrifying realisations of the scope of humanity’s brutality and its consequences. Asking students to grasp the magnitude of these horrors can be overwhelming for both the teacher and the pupil. Topics such as racism, homophobia and anti-Semitism, as well as right-wing nationalism, must be discussed both as historical lessons and as subjects that could still have an effect on modern life.
Consequently, educational visits to historic sites such as Anne Frank’s annexe utilises the benefits of a more tactile experience for pupils, thus increasing their understanding. Anne’s diary, relaying her experiences of persecution, hiding and fear, is written in a way that is highly relatable to the secondary school age group. The Anne Frank Museum goes one step further in bringing the story out of the abstract and reinforcing that Anne was indeed a real girl hiding in fear and experiencing the horrors of war first-hand.
The Anne Frank Museum
The Anne Frank Museum is a fascinating curiosity for any inquisitive mind. The annexe has been preserved as a time capsule from a completely unique point of view. Students generally grasp onto this tale of the war written by a pre-teen because it is rare to hear such a completely relatable voice amongst all the adult-written history books and documents.
The museum capitalises on this fact and can take educational visits to the next level by offering in-depth workshops and tours. These interactive sessions can be adapted for different ages and levels according to the need of your class. By engaging with the group, leaders encourage them to ask important but difficult questions regarding persecution, marginalisation and oppression both in the past and today. Relevant teaching aids provide an even greater connection between today’s youth and the experience of one of their peers in the past.
Arranging any group activity can be complicated, especially when the destination is out of the country. Educators will find that using a professional company to take care of the organisation and details extremely useful when visiting one of Amsterdam’s most popular sites. The rewards that educational visits such as these grant are endless, not only in regards to supplementing a syllabus effectively but also achieving the primary goal of any teacher: reaching into the minds of young people and opening them to thoughts, questions and endless curiosity.
John Gardiner is the Managing Director of The School Travel Company, a tour operator specialising in educational visits for school and youth groups to the UK, Europe and beyond. As a father and avid traveller, John is very passionate about providing students with valuable and engaging learning experiences outside of the classroom. By sharing his expert advice with teachers, he allows them to inspire their students and bring their studies to life.