Europe has a rich and often painful history. Learning about European history exemplifies how human behavior and cultural values differ according to time and place. Understanding history is exciting in itself, but it also helps us to understand the present. Most of all, I want to instill in students an appreciation and an enthusiasm for learning about the past and its legacies. In my classes, we look at a variety of sources in historical writing. To understand a certain era in history, it is not enough to know the names of main political players, dates of major events or larger economic developments. Paintings, poems, and music reflect the minds of the people living at a certain time better than anything else. In my class History of the Holocaust, we listen to Holocaust survivors who come to our class and talk about their experiences. One year we took a field trip to the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles. Eighteen students went on the two day trip and we had a guided tour of the Holocaust section in the museum. In Europe since 1945, one of the assigned readings is the European news in the New York Times. We study the historical roots of ongoing conflicts and discuss current events.
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