Advertisement

International Review of Education

, Volume 63, Issue 1, pp 51–70 | Cite as

Encountering the past in the present: An exploratory study of educational heritage tourism

  • Magdalena H. GrossEmail author
  • Ari Y. Kelman
Original Paper

Abstract

This article presents an educational programme designed to explore the multicultural history of Poland. Targeting Jewish and non-Jewish students of Polish heritage, the Polonia Programme (PP) was conceptualised with the aim of applying the tools of experiential education to initiate a new approach to examining one of the world’s most challenging and fraught historical narratives. The programme, piloted in the summer of 2014, takes two groups of young people from the United States to Poland each year. It features a combination of formal lectures and interactive tours, complemented by structured and semi-structured discussions. The destination of this particular tour, with these particular participants, both challenges and reinforces accepted notions of “heritage tourism” within an experiential educational framework. This framework enables a sense of group connectivity which allows students to be, perhaps, more open to alternative narratives about the past. The authors of this article, who were involved in evaluating the pilot launch of the Polonia Programme, found that the programme’s experiential approach succeeded in encouraging participants in the pilot cohort to challenge ideas about their definitions of and preconceptions about “who and what counts as Polish”. For many, the experience shifted their understanding of Poland towards one which took its multi-ethnic and multicultural history into account. Several discovered new perspectives on their own identity and heritage, while others reached a new understanding of the shared histories of Poles and Jews. The experiential nature of this programme also allowed students to encounter difficult histories: experience, then, became a vehicle for more challenging conversations and deeper learning.

Keywords

Heritage tourism Experiential education Poland Identity Holocaust Difficult histories Holocaust education Teaching the difficult past 

Résumé

Rencontrer le passé dans le présent: étude exploratoire du tourisme patrimonial éducatif – Cet article présente un programme pédagogique consistant à explorer le passé multiculturel de la Pologne. Destiné aux jeunes juifs et non juifs d’origine polonaise, le Polonia Programme (PP) a été conceptualisé de sorte à appliquer les outils de l’apprentissage expérientiel afin d’amorcer une nouvelle approche pour examiner l’un des faits historiques les plus complexes et sensibles qui existe. Testé au cours de l’été 2014, ce programme accueille chaque année deux groupes de jeunes résidant aux États-Unis et en Pologne. Il consiste en une association de cours magistraux et de visites interactives, complétés par des débats structurés et semi-structurés. Le lieu de destination de cette visite spécifique accomplie par ces participants spécifiques interroge et renforce à la fois dans un cadre d’apprentissage expérientiel les idées reçues sur le « tourisme patrimonial » . Ce cadre favorise un sentiment de lien avec le groupe, qui aide les élèves à être éventuellement plus ouverts aux versions différentes du passé. Les auteurs de l’article ont participé à l’évaluation du projet pilote du Polonia Programme et constaté que l’approche expérientielle de ce programme a réussi à inciter les participants du groupe d’essai à remettre en question leurs définitions et préjugés quant à « qui et quoi est considéré comme polonais » . Pour la majorité d’entre eux, l’expérience a modifié leur vision de la Pologne pour tenir davantage compte de son passé multiethnique et multiculturel. Certains ont découvert de nouvelles perspectives de leur propre identité et patrimoine, tandis que d’autres ont développé une nouvelle appréhension du passé commun entre Juifs et Polonais. La nature expérientielle de ce programme a en outre permis aux élèves de se confronter à des passés difficiles: l’expérience devient alors un vecteur pour des échanges plus exigeants et un apprentissage approfondi.

References

  1. Arendt, H. (1963). Eichmann in Jerusalem. Penguin.Google Scholar
  2. Aviv, C. S., & Shneer, D. (2005). New Jews: The end of the Jewish diaspora. New York: NYU Press.Google Scholar
  3. Bar-Tal, D., & Rosen, Y. (2009). Direct and indirect models of peace education. Review of Educational Research, 79(2), 557–575.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bilewicz, M. (2007). History as an obstacle: Impact of temporal-based social categorizations on Polish-Jewish intergroup contact. Group Processes & Intergroup Relations, 10(4), 551–563.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bilewicz, M., & Jaworska, M. (2013). Reconciliation through the righteous: The narratives of heroic helpers as a fulfillment of emotional needs in Polish-Jewish intergroup contact. Journal of Social Issues, 69(1), 162–179.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Blejwas, S. (1998). Jews in the mental world of Polish immigrants. Przewodnik Katolicki of New Britain, Connecticut. In T. S. Gladsky, A. Walaszek, & M. M. Wawrykiewicz (Eds.), Ethnicity, culture, city: Polish-Americans in the USA: Cultural aspects of urban life, 1870–1950 in comparative perspective (pp. 1907–1920). Oficyna Naukowa: Warsaw.Google Scholar
  7. Bukowczyk, J. J. (Ed.). (1996). Polish Americans and their history: Community, culture, and politics. Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh Press.Google Scholar
  8. Chatterjee, P. (1993). The nation and its fragments: Colonial and postcolonial histories. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  9. Davies, N. (2005). God’s playground: A history of Poland (rev. edn; 2 vols). New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
  10. Deak, I., Gross, J. T., & Judt, T. (2000). The politics of retribution in Europe: World War II and its aftermath. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Dewey, J. (2007 [1938]). Experience and education. New York: Simon and Schuster.Google Scholar
  12. Feldman, J. (2008). Above the death pits, beneath the flag: Youth voyages to Poland and the performance of Israeli national identity. New York: Berghahn Books.Google Scholar
  13. Gaertner, S. L., Dovidio, J. F., & Bachman, B. A. (1996). Revisiting the contact hypothesis: The induction of a common ingroup identity. International Journal of Intercultural Relations, 20(3), 271–290.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Garton Ash, T. (2002 [1981]). The Polish revolution: Solidarity. 3rd edn. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
  15. Garton Ash, T. (2002b). Trials, purges and history lessons: Treating a difficult past in post-communist Europe. In J. W. Müller (Ed.), Memory and power in post-war Europe: Studies in the presence of the past (pp. 265–282). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  16. Gross, J. T. (2000). Neighbors: The destruction of the Jewish community in Jedwabne, Poland. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  17. Gross, J. T., & Gross, I. G. (2012). Golden harvest: Events at the periphery of the Holocaust. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  18. Gruber, R. E. (2002). Virtually Jewish: Reinventing Jewish culture in Europe. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  19. Huener (2003). Auschwitz, Poland, and the politics of commemoration, 19451979. Athens, OH: Ohio University Press.Google Scholar
  20. Kelner, S. (2012). Tours that bind: Diaspora, pilgrimage, and Israeli birthright tourism. New York, NY: NYU Press.Google Scholar
  21. Kirshenblatt-Gimblett, B. (1998). Destination culture: tourism, museums, and heritage. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  22. Kolb, D. A., Boyatzis, R., & Charlampos, M. (1999). Experiential learning theory: Previous research and new directions. In R. J. Sternberg & L. F. Zhang (Eds.), Perspectives on cognitive learning and thinking styles (pp. 227–248). New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  23. Kolb, D. A., & Fry, R. (1975). Toward an applied theory of experiential learning. In C. Cooper (Ed.), Theories of group processes (pp. 33–57). London: John Wiley.Google Scholar
  24. Kugelmass, J. (1993). The rites of the tribe: The meaning of Poland for American Jewish tourists. YIVO Annual of Jewish Social Science, 21, 395–453.Google Scholar
  25. Lehrer, E. T. (2013). Jewish Poland revisited: Heritage tourism in unquiet places., New Anthropologies of Europe series Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press.Google Scholar
  26. Lehrer, E. T., & Warchoł, J. (2014). Na szczęście to Żyd: Polskie figurki Żydów [Lucky Jews: Poland’s Jewish figurines]. Kraków: Korporacja Ha!art.Google Scholar
  27. Liu, J. H., & Hilton, D. J. (2005). How the past weighs on the present: Social representations of history and their role in identity politics. British Journal of Social Psychology, 44(4), 537–556.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. MacCannell, D. (1976). The tourist: A new theory of the leisure class. New York: Schocken Books.Google Scholar
  29. Michlic, J. B. (2002). Coming to terms with the “dark past”: The Polish debate about the Jedwabne massacre. Jerusalem: Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Vidal Sassoon International Center for the Study of Anti-semitism.Google Scholar
  30. Michlic, J. B. (2006). Poland’s threatening other: The image of the Jew from 1880 to the present. Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press.Google Scholar
  31. Porat, D. A. (2004). It’s not written here, but this is what happened: Students’ cultural comprehension of textbook narratives on the Israeli-Arab conflict. American Educational Research Journal, 41(4), 963–996.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Seixas, P. (1997). Mapping the terrain of historical significance. Social Education, 61(1), 22–27.Google Scholar
  33. Steinlauf, M. C. (1997). Bondage to the dead: Poland and the memory of the Holocaust. Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press.Google Scholar
  34. Wertsch, J. V. (2002). Voices of collective remembering. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Wineburg, S., Mosborg, S., Porat, D., & Duncan, A. (2007). Common belief and the cultural curriculum: An intergenerational study of historical consciousness. American Educational Research Journal, 44(1), 40–76.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Witkowska, M., & Bilewicz, M. (2014). Czy prawda nas wyzwoli? Przełamywanie oporu psychologicznego w przyjmowaniu wiedzy o Zagładzie. [Will the truth set us free? Breaking the psychological resistance to new knowledge about the Shoah.] Zagłada Żydów. Studia i materiały, 10, 803–822.Google Scholar
  37. Witkowska, M., Stefaniak, A., & Bilewicz, M. (2015). Stracone szanse? Wpływ polskiej edukacji o Zagładzie na postawy wobec Żydów [Lost chances? Influence of Polish education about the Holocaust on attitudes towards Jews]. Psychologia Wychowawcza, 47(5), 147–159.Google Scholar
  38. Zubrzycki, G. (2006). The crosses of Auschwitz: Nationalism and religion in post-communist Poland. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht and UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.College of EducationUniversity of Maryland, College ParkCollege ParkUSA
  2. 2.Graduate School of EducationStanford UniversityStanfordUSA

Personalised recommendations