UCSB Oral History Project Homepage > Research and Teaching Homepage > Interview with Michelle Britton
Topic: Teaching Anne Frank in the Classroom
By Jessica Landfried
Michelle Britton is a history teacher at Goleta Valley Middle School. When she was in high school in the 1970s she had never heard about Anne Frank. It wasn’t until Michelle traveled to Europe that she learned of Anne’s story. She currently is not teaching the diary, but had taught the diary for three years in the late 1990s. The diary is not a required book in the school curriculum, but is a suggested book. Michelle chose to use the Diary because she feels it is helpful tool to understand diversity, racism and tolerance. She uses the diary because Anne was the same age as her students and the diary acts as a springboard to tackle both racial and adolescent problems. Michelle feels that Anne is honest about adolescence and the students can relate to her.
Along with having her students read the diary Michelle had them keep interactive notebooks, in which the students could ask questions and write down their feelings about what they were reading and learning. Michelle also showed the 1959 Anne Frank Movie. Also set up in the school curriculum is a visit to the Los Angeles Museum of Tolerance. The students are able to view the horrible atrocities and suffering of people during the Holocaust that they have been studying in class.
Michelle noticed a positive reaction to teaching the diary. She believes that the diary sparks a further interest in studying the holocaust. Some students reacted emotionally by crying to what they are learning about. The only negative reaction the Michelle encountered was that the diary was too long and boring. However, overall the majority of her students found the diary to be very helpful in exploring the Holocaust and the problems that the world faces today with racism and oppression.