Sharing knowledge and making new friends is an international affair
Our 2nd Regional Summer School is now officially over and the EuroClio team will cherish the memories made and people met. It turned out to be quite an intense week - and not just because of the weather. Thanks to the support Regional Cooperation Council (RCC) and our new project Education Partnership for Advocacy, Capacity-Building and Transformation (ePACT) participants from all over world, representatives of eight regional history teachers' associations (see top of the page) and cultural heritage experts could join our Summer School this year. The Summer School was also a great opportunity for the further development of our Needs Assessment in the partner-project ePACT. The programme was packed with interesting workshops, panels and speakers and on two days the whole group enjoyed a great deal of on-site learning. We got to know Montenegro the Montenegrin way, which meant many mountains and many curves, but in the end it was worth it, being able to see the Njegos Mausoleum, the old city of Kotor, the old city of Bar, Ulcinj and, former capital of Montenegro: Cetinje. As Milena Filipovic (Senior Expert at the RCC) put it: "You basically seen half of the country now!"
The Summer School focused on the connection between history education and cultural heritage, which is of great importance to the RCC, and the on-site learning played an important role in this part. The old city of Bar for example is the archaeological site in Montenegro where all students have been at least once in their lives and local HIPMONT members Milos Vukanović and Petra Zdravković aimed to tell the educational story. One of them focused more on history, while the other took the archaeological value of the site in consideration. Cultural heritage was also discussed by speakers like Aida Salketic and Milena Filipovic in their presentations on the organisation Cultural Heritage without Borders and the project Cultural Routes. Through their presentations, participants learned more about the numerous projects in the Balkans that give people the possibility to learn more about cultural heritage in their countries through "hands on work" or through biking routes alongside important heritage sites. Sometimes with explanation and stories from locals.
Workshops formed an important part of the programme and we've seen some very interesting workshops given by enthusiastic and knowledgeable people. One of the workshops was given by Szilvia Peto-Dittel, representative of Yad Vashem, the world Holocaust Remembrance Center. She used the personal story of the "Auschwitz album", which was given to Yad Vashem in 1980, and the "Other Album" to explain the bigger story of the Holocaust and the complicated definition of perpetrators and victims. All participants, whom were unfamiliar with the story, were intrigued by it and a lot of them will decide to watch the new Hungarian movie called "Son of Saul", which makes viewers think and doubt who is a perpetrator and why. Szilvia Peto-Dittel did warn all teachers to think about when and if to show this movie to students, as it is brutally real.
Thanks to our international participants we were able to arrange the panel “The Balkan in history education - a global view” which showed how history in the Balkans was taught in Malta, Scotland, the United States and Finland. Sture Lindholm has been organising study visits to the Balkan region for five years now and his students learn a lot from it. Catherine Regan from Scotland is coordinator at an IB School which focuses on teaching a global view and the importance of developing a well-informed opinion. Scotland knows the "dark side" of nationalism and that is why it is important to be "sensible about culture". Paul Portelli from Malta on the other hand emphasized the fact that for his students it if very difficult to understand the way nationalism worked in the Balkans: "Malta is just a small country." All these different stories and views gave an interesting overview of how the history in South East Europe is being taught elsewhere.
On the final day there was a Needs Assessment session for ePACT, in which participants gave valuable input to further develop the questionnaire, which is scheduled to be implemented in the beginning of next year. More recent history was discussed in the open session "How to teach about the 90s". The Center for Civic Education of Montenegro gave a good overview of the knowledge of contemporary Montenegrin history among Montenegrin students. For some participants it came as quite a surprise that many students weren't that knowledgeable at all. However, some students have lived in over four countries, without ever moving to another city. This indicates the complexity of the history in South East Europe and because of this, it is less strange to see some of the low percentages of historical knowledge in some areas. Seneda Jusic, representative from EuroClio-HIP BiH, concluded the session with a presentation on how to teach sensitive topics. She explained the difficulties that Bosnian history teachers face when teaching about the 90s. For example there are many definitions and views on what happened depending on where you live and there are multiple textbooks in the country which make the history even more complex then it is. She then showed a way of how to teach about this sensitive topic, which was developed in a previous project. On the EuroClio-HIP BiH website you can find materials to help educators when teaching about the 90s. One of the workshops provides a great overview of events by using a multi-stranded timeline to show what happened in different countries on the same date. She concluded that "this is not a qualification of history, many would say this. This is just they way how to find a better future."