Teaching The Children of Willesden Lane
Resources to help you teach the book in middle schools and high schools

Chapters 9–12

Classroom Video:
Upstanders and Bystanders

Why do some people, and some nations, choose to help victims of persecution, while others simply look on? The Children of Willesden Lane contains examples of both “upstanders”—those who choose to help, often at risk to themselves—and “bystanders”—those who choose not to get involved. Teachers can use these concepts to help students think carefully about both the choices made in history and their own choices today.

In the video, Nancy Parrish explores the concepts of upstanders and bystanders with her eighth-grade history students. The class has studied American history, including slavery and the Great Depression, as well as antisemitism and other factors that led to World War II.

  • Nancy has students define “upstander” and “bystander” and apply these terms to people in The Children of Willesden Lane. (See page 29 of the curriculum guide for a related activity.)

  • Students learn about the controversial Wagner-Rogers Bill, which would have allowed 20,000 Jewish children safe haven in the United States after the violence of Kristallnacht. Working in groups, the students discuss historical factors that may have influenced the United States’ decision not to act. Information about the Wagner-Rogers Bill is included as a Historical Sidelight on page 30 of the curriculum guide.

Questions for Reflection

  • What are the implications of “upstanding” and “bystanding” for a middle or high school student? Why is this a valuable concept to explore with students?
  • How does Nancy encourage students to think about historical questions from the perspective of the period?
Nancy Parrish speaks with a student


Teacher: Nancy Parrish
Grade: 8
Subject: History
Location: Memphis, TN

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