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Rethinking History for Theory of Knowledge

Posted: June 3, 2016

On 20 May, Ephraim Kaye from Jerusalem’s Yad Vashem (The World Holocaust Remembrance Centre) spoke to our Y12 Theory of Knowledge students. Using his extensive experience of working with primary documents and recording the testimony of Holocaust survivors, Ephraim spoke to the students about the complex process to piece together an understanding of the Holocaust in which historians have been engaged over the course of decades, and, indeed, continue today.

In doing so, he was addressing key questions from the TOK course: is knowledge of the past ever certain?, To what extent does emotion play a role in an historian’s analysis? What are the values and limitations of particular source types? Touching also upon Holocaust denial, Ephraim showed students a¬†compelling¬†array of primary sources that have undermined the deniers’ claims as well as exploring the ideological position upon which their claims rest. The session proved valuable in generating great discussion amongst the students as well as giving them first-hand insight into the intricate and, at times, problematic work of the historian.