Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Blackhen Education's Top 5 Children's books about the Holocaust


January 27th marks Holocaust Memorial Day. On this day we remember the millions of Jews that were murdered in the concentration camps by the Nazis during World War II. It is very important that each generation of children learn about the Holocaust and the atrocities that occurred.

At Blackhen Education we believe that one of the best ways for a child to learn about the Holocaust is through reading about the subject, whether it be autobiographical books (Anne Frank's Diary) or fiction (The Book Thief).

There are lots of resources to help children research this subject; be it books, films, online, documentaries etc. Due to the nature of this topic, parents do need to exercise some discretion and guidance for their children when finding out about this shocking episode in history. We would probably suggest that 13 years plus is probably the best age for children to first approach this subject. This is in line with most schools in the UK. 

We have complied a list of 5 books for teenagers and young adults to learn about the Holocaust and the issues raised by it.

Number the Stars - Lois Lowry

'It is 1943 and for ten-year-old Annemarie Johansen life in Copenhagen is a complicated mix of home and school life, food shortages and the constant presence of Nazi soldiers. She knows about bravery from the stories of the dragon-slaying knights that she reads to her younger sister. But Anniemarie's best frien Ellen is a Jew. As the German troops begin their campaign to eradicate all the Jews of Denmark, Annemarie is called upon for courage and a very real-life feat of bravery'. Amazon books.

Milkweed - Jerry Spinelli.

'The book is about a boy in Warsaw, Poland in the years of World War II during the Holocaust. Over time he is taken in by a Jewish group of orphans and he must avoid the German troops (or "Jackboots") while living on the streets with other orphans'. Wikipedia

The Holocaust - Susanna Davidson

'Under the cover of the Second World War, the Nazis set out to kill every Jewish person in Europe, in what is now known as the Holocaust. This book looks at the events leading up to it and describes what happened, using historical fact and survivors' stories to give a moving and sensitive account'. - Google books.

The Earth is Singing - Vanessa Curtis

My name is Hanna Michelson. I am fifteen. I am Latvian. I live with my mother and grandmother. My father is missing - taken by the Russians. I have a boyfriend. When he holds my hand,everything feels perfect. I'm training to be a dancer. But none of that matters now. Because the Nazi have arrived and I am a Jew. And as far as they are concerned, that is all that matters.
This is my story' - Usbourne books
The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas - John Boyne

'This book follows a 9-year-old boy named Bruno growing up during World War II in Berlin, Germany. He lives in a huge house with his parents, his 12-year-old sister Gretel and servants, one of whom is called Maria. After a visit by Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun, Bruno's father is promoted to Commandant, and the family has to move to "Out-With" because of the orders of "The Fury".- Wikipedia

Details of all our English courses can be found on our website: www.blackheneducation.com or contact us at: sue@blackheneducation.com

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Education and Freedom of Speech

'Freedom of speech is the concept of the inherent human right to voice one's opinion publicly without fear of censorship or punishment'.

The attack last week on the staff of Charlie Hebdo and the ensuing violence poses many questions for us, but a key one must be how do we address the notion of free speech with our children. In France it has been long established that students learn the underlying values of the Republic: ‘Liberty, Equality and Fraternity’. Now that very democratic value is under the spotlight.

At Blackhen Education we feel that education is one of the most important ways to ensure that young people view the acquisition of knowledge and skills as a way to develop an open mind and one that seeks to question. In addition, we must teach them that listening to the views of others is important but also how we react to them.

In one of our units we look at the ‘Cult of Celebrity’ and ask them to rank a series of famous female faces in order of importance. Consistently the person that is ranked first is the Pakistani schoolgirl and Nobel Prize winner Malala Yousafzai. This is deeply heartening that she is perceived by our students as being more ‘important’ than a host of film stars, singers and clothes designers. For a symbol of bravery and defiance, Malala is hard to beat. Despite being shot merely for wishing to go to school, she continues to campaign for everyone, regardless of creed, colour or nationality, to have the right to a full education. In addition, she talks of peace as a response to violence and has even gone so far as to publicly forgive her attackers.

Too often in life prejudice can masquerade as something ‘to be respected’ or ‘to be accepted’ because that is the way it has always been done. Having a forum to speak openly and to challenge is a fundamental cornerstone of what democracies should stand for. Even if we disagree with what someone says, they should have the right to say it.

In another one of our units (Refugee Boy) we pose the question ‘What does freedom mean to you?’ It is a question that we should all be asking at this moment, as well as what we will do to ensure that these freedoms to speak and express ourselves continue. Education isn’t merely about learning to read and write, it goes much deeper. It is the first step in learning to think and to question. A society is only as free as the values it is run on and the people tasked with defending these. The next generation of guardians are waiting in the wings and watching.

This post was written by Andy Mackay ( KS3 and IGCSE tutor at Blackhen Education).

Thursday, 8 January 2015

6 ways to read your way to a healthier 2015!

January is here again!
Once again we will all be looking to become better people. Be it slimmer, smoke-free, alcohol refraining, multi-lingual, kinder or less-stressed. The list goes on. For many, these admirable aims will fall by the way side within a few weeks. However, one area you can succeed in, and improve your life immeasurably is by making a list of literary resolutions. You may not have a slimmer waist line nor win the Nobel Peace Prize, but these are resolutions that you can keep. And they’re fun!

Read More
For many, life seems to get in the way of a good book. However, they are a great way to unwind and escape the pressures of the day. Try to read at least 30 minutes a day. Why not switch off the TV or computer and grab a book (or tablet) before going to sleep? In addition, you might want to set yourself a goal to read a book a month, or two, or more? Why not draw up a list of books that you feel you should read? Or just ones that interest you?
Read New
Whilst buying a second hand book is a cheap way to stay well-stocked with reading material, it doesn’t help the author. They only receive payment once. Why not buy a new book for every three second-hand books you read.

Read Debut
Change can be a frightening thing. However, it can also reap rich rewards. Every now and then why not plunge into the sea of new writers out there. If you have a favourite writer, investigate who they like and recommend. Established writers often champion those new in print. Find out who they recommend.
Read Local
For many would-be book buyers the first thing they will do is type ‘Amazon’ on their keyboard. However, why not wander down to your local bookshop (or even find out where it is). Many local bookshops are fighting a losing battle at the moment to online retailers. Where you spend your money is a personal choice and deciding to help a local business, especially an independent  bookshop, can mean the difference between them staying afloat or disappearing to the stockroom in the sky.
Read Different
Even if you love sports autobiographies or gritty crime novels, why not break out into a different genre? If you have a subject that has always interested you but you’ve never got round to reading about it, do it this year! Or maybe something you’ve just heard about or read and want to know more. Go on, pick up that book and read it.

Read and Recommend
If you’ve read a great book, don’t keep it to yourself. Let friends and family know about it. Why not donate the books you’ve enjoyed reading to a charity and slip a note into each one saying how great it is? This way, the author’s work gets passed along and you’ve helped out a good cause. Plus you’ll have book space for all of your new purchases for 2015.

Finally remember that sometimes the fun things in life can get forgotten about in the mad rush of family life and work. Even if you only do one of the above, you will have a great 2015. 

This post was written by Andy Mackay ( KS3 & IGCSE Tutor at Blackhen Education).

Contact us at: sue@blackheneducation.com for one of our recommended reading lists for children.