Experiential Museum Learning that is Relevant
The world in which students live now has been shaped profoundly by World War II. Today, the political, social and cultural lessons of the war are highly relevant to young people. Their world shows increasing international tensions, stirrings of nationalism and isolationism, and rising anti-Semitism and xenophobia. We believe that to stem these, character, initiative, and empathy in young people can be shaped and fostered through education. This important work happens daily through school programs at the International Museum of World War II.
A Museum experience here offers multiple perspectives on World War II, and countless lenses on human behavior. We help young people understand why nations resort to war, and the terrible implications of such conflict —both globally and at a deeply personal level. Students are encouraged to handle many of the artifacts, providing an intimately moving and sensory experience. The wail of a hand-cranked British air raid siren raises the hair on their necks. Recruitment posters and relics from around the world remind them: it was people their age who went to war, went into the factories, and bravely resisted occupying armies.
A hallmark of our program is this: our educators work in advance with teachers to custom-tailor a field experience
Objects and documents tell powerful stories and raise thought-provoking questions, complimenting and accelerating classroom learning. A young girl carried secret Resistance messages in her sewing kit, house to house, in Occupied France. Did she know her parents had placed the messages there? Should children have been involved in such dangerous activities?
A global perspective, yet intensely personal
Visiting the Museum is a moving experience. Who were the thousand different Japanese women, each of whom made one stitch on a single soldier’s sash? Why was one young Jewish girl allowed to keep her doll with her at Ravensbrück concentration camp? What did a young Tuskegee Airman feel when he first donned his leather flight jacket?
Experiencing historical empathy
In the immersive atmosphere of the Museum, with the proximity to original materials, and tactile possibilities, teachers tell us there is no better place to experience historical empathy. Students see the relevance of these times to their lives today. They understand that they have agency, and can act to make the world a better place.