Terrible Knowledge And Tertiary Trauma, Part I: Teaching About Japanese Nuclear Trauma And Resistance To The Atomic Bomb

The Clearing HouseHouse 86 (05):157-163 (2013)
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This article discusses twelve reasons that we must teach about the 1945 American atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. As with Holocaust studies, we must teach this material even though it is both emotionally and intellectually difficult—in spite of our feelings of repugnance and/or grief, and our concerns regarding students’ potential distress (“tertiary trauma”). To handle such material effectively, we should keep in mind ten objectives: 1) to expand students' knowledge about the subject along with the victims’ experience of it; 2) to develop teachers’ awareness of and comfort with it; 3) to help students cope with this knowledge so they are not traumatized themselves; 4) to make sure students don't take refuge in callousness, inappropriate humor, blaming the victim, or despair; 5) to enable students to teach others about the event(s); 6) to enable students to use their increased knowledge and self-reflection individually and as part of the national dialogue; 7) to deepen and “complexify” the conversation on the bombings; 8) to develop supports for teachers and students throughout this process;” 9) to reintegrate the objective with the subjective, recognizing that emotion may be appropriate to some learning; 10) to instigate a dialogue allowing teachers and students to continue to investigate this and related topics.
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