EUROCLIO continuously works to improve its innovative educational platform Historiana. To do so, it has been collaborating with Europeana in the creation of source collections. The aim of this collaboration is to guarantee to teachers across all Europe the possibility to have free access to historical content, learning activities and innovative digital tools. We are now working on many new collections focusing on the Renaissance, and on how the ideas of the Renaissance fed into different disciplines (painting but also sculpture, cartography, music, literature, architecture, philosophy, and science), across different countries.
Newly available is the collection “Medicine and Anatomy” that focuses on how Anatomy and Medicine evolved as the scientific method gained prominence during the Renaissance period. This collection gives an overview of some of the key ideas that influenced medical thought, as well as of all the important thinkers of that era. The main purpose of this source collection is to give students the possibility to explore and understand the changes throughout Europe of how people perceived medicine and the human body, as well as scientific advancements. Ultimately, it helps students to pose questions about progress and declines of the Renaissance period.
Together with the VPRO broadcasting company and the VGN, the Dutch History Teachers Association, EUROCLIO is working on a new exciting project In Europe at School – History Caught in the Act. The project will result in an educational toolkit based on the follow-up of the VPRO series In Europe, made with Geert Mak, the author of the books on which both series are made. The new series will focus on the question what changed in Europe during the last twenty years.
As part of the project, students will make their own documentary on a topic from the series, which means they will have to do their own research on history and learn to communicate it to others. There will be lesson plans for the topics and tutorials on how to make documentaries. There are history lessons on the specific topic to show the continuity and change in, of example, migration. Furthermore there are lessons to show how to find this topic locally and how to research it in order to produce a documentary. The produced documentaries are shared with a partner school from a different country, which means that the students will see the same topic, but from an entirely different perspective.
The first meeting with VPRO’s Educational Coordinator, Odette Toeset, and the EUROCLIO authors of the lesson plan, Daniel Bernsen, Harri Beobide and Marian Heesen, took place this month at the EUROCLIO Secretariat in The Hague. The team agreed on a structure that could be used for all topics, and decided on the topics and key questions for the first two lessons. We are looking forward to work more with our partner and authors on this creative project.
The first lessons of the toolkit will be ready when the series airs in the end of 2019.
During the board meeting in Gdansk this April, the EUROCLIO Board signed a Management Agreement with Steven Stegers, appointing him as Executive Director, with a mandate until 2021. What does this mean for our organization? I talked to Steven about his proudest moment at EUROCLIO, and how he aims to make our organization future-proof, as was asked by the Board in the vacancy.
Having been involved with EUROCLIO since 2006, Steven has witnessed our organization change over the years. ‘The scope of EUROCLIOs work has changed significantly over the years’ he explains: ‘When I started to work at EUROCLIO, we worked mostly on a national and regional level. There were less projects, but the projects that we did have were big and lasted multiple years. They focused on network and capacity building where history educators worked on joint publications. Now, most projects are European projects, with less educators from one country, but more countries overall.’ Also the language of the publications changed: ‘Now most educational resource are made in English, whereas most of the earlier publications were made in local languages’. ‘Of course, ideally you want both’.
Of the dozens of projects and countries he was involved with, I ask Steven which one he is most proud of. ‘That is a really hard choice,’ he initially counters my question. But when forced to choose, he mentions the Crossroads of Cultures publication as one of the highlights of his career. It was the first project he was involved with from start to finish (for 4 years). He worked with more than a hundred people from over twenty countries on this publication, which shows that it is possible to overcome differences, also in countries who have a shared difficult past.
For the future, Steven wants to make EUROCLIO a global community of history education professionals, where they can find inspiration and support, and share ideas, research and practices. ‘Meeting the needs and wishes of those educators who are actually teaching history needs to be the main focus of EUROCLIOs work.’ As a first step EUROCLIO started to organize webinars. Fees from individual members will be used to offer more and more value for the professional community of history educators.
To decide how to best meet your needs, we are interested in the issues and topics our members want to have addressed. Please share your views, ideas and suggestions for future projects and educational resources or strategies, and let us know via email@example.com!
On 6 April the 2019 General Assembly took place in Gdansk, Poland. The EUROCLIO General Assembly votes on the election of board members, Full and Associated Membership, internal rules and statutes changes. This year resulted in a new board composition, 2 new associated members and 1 new full member being voted in.
The General Assembly voted for a new board composition. After finishing his second and final term, Board President Mire Mladenovski finished his board membership. Paolo Ceccoli has taken over the role of President. Board Secretary Sinéad Fitzsimons decided not to stand for re-election after her first term and also finished her board membership this Assembly. Two new board members were voted in: Denis Detling from Croatia will take on the role of Secretary, and Lars Peter Visti Hansen from Denmark was also voted in as new board member.
This year two new organisations have been voted in as Associate Members: National Institute Parri – Milano: History institutes on Resistance and Contemporary epoch network from Italy, and History NGO Forum for Peace in East Asia from South Korea. One Full Member was voted in: The Association for the Development of Sports and Sports Culture Footura from Bulgaria. According to the EUROCLIO governance structure, Associate Members play a role in network consultations to help set priorities for project fundraising and for the development of educational materials, but do not vote in General Assemblies. Full Members have the same participatory rights and responsibilities as Associate Members, and are allowed to vote during the General Assembly.
In the final week of my residency at EUROCLIO, I delivered a webinar entitled Reading Visual History: Using Digitised History Sources to Promote Visual Literacy and Historical Thinking which was free for EUROCLIO members. The webinar took place on the afternoon of 13 May and was attended by participants tuning in from all over the world, some of whom were able to join us even whilst travelling home from work. We are excited about offering webinars more often as they are a convenient way to bring our membership together for professional development and discussion and this session formed a first step in this direction.
We began by discussing the importance of visual literacy and some general principles for analysing visual sources in the history classroom. According to Bristor and Drake, “visual literacy is a person’s ability to understand, interpret and evaluate visual messages, and in turn to use visual language to communicate with others.” While we all have some level of visual literacy, it is important that students develop the skills to critically engage with visual sources in their daily lives and in order to improve their historical thinking skills. Visual literacy can aid the development of skills like using sources, contextualising, and taking historical perspectives. It can also spark student interest and provide an alternative way to increase substantive historical knowledge in what is often a text-heavy subject area. Some of the general principles for supporting students to enhance their visual literacy skills include:
Work from the surface to the depths
Begin with what stands out in an image and then ‘read’ in greater detail, asking questions of the image along the way. Consider how factors like position, colour, shape, symbols, etc. serve to attract the viewer’s attention and communicate messages.
Describe and interpret
Ensure students are making clear links between exactly what they see in the image and what they interpret this to mean. This helps to avoid false assumptions, encourages students to always justify their interpretations and assists them in identifying how ideas and messages are communicated in visual sources.
Consider different perspectives
There are three important categories of perspective to consider when working with historical visual sources: the perspective of the creator, the perspective of the contemporary viewer, and the perspective of the present-day viewer.
Using contextual knowledge and captions
Contextual knowledge from both your teaching and image captions can support students to make sense of the image and identify the perspectives above. In some cases, it can be useful to withhold these until later in the analysis process in order to encourage more open ‘reading’ or to demonstrate the importance of context.
Using Digital Sources and Online Activities
The second half of the session focused on the use of online learning activities to promote both visual literacy and historical thinking skills. The example activities presented showed how digital sources, coming from Europeana Collections and curated for educators on our own Historiana website, can be used in different ways in the classroom. They were created using the eLearning Activity Builder with a focus on the ‘Analysing’ and ‘Sorting’ tools.
An activity using the Posters from Communist China source collection promoted deep reading of propaganda posters in order to understand the type of society the Chinese Communist Party hoped to create. The image above is an example of one of these posters, and you can see it is a rich source of messages about the ideal Chinese Communist society. The second activity, using TheVisual Front source collection of official WWI photography, asked students to analyse and evaluate the strategies used in this photography to make the lives of soldiers look appealing. In presenting these activities, we discussed the advantages of online learning activities and some possible ways to integrate this into the workflow of the classroom.
The webinar software allowed participants to share video and audio and therefore engage in real discussion throughout the session. This was a great way for us to connect and collaborate. EUROCLIO is keen to make webinars a regular feature for members so keep an eye out for information on upcoming sessions.
From the 2nd to the 5th of May, the 2rd Short-Term Staff Training for the Football Makes History project took place in Bucharest, Romania. The Training was organised by the Romanian Football Federation, one of the partners in the Project.
28 enthusiastic developers from all over Europe met in the capital city of Romania for this meeting, which focused on the inclusion of national minorities, both in football and in public life in general. Presentations on this topic, which is of high relevance within the Romanian context, were given by the Florin Sari, CSR Manager of the Romanian Football Federation, and by Ms. Lacziko Eniko Katalin, State Secretary for Interethnic Minorities.
During the meeting, developers presented the topics that they would like to touch upon in the educational material they are creating to each other (such as how to use football and football teams to teach the concept of border, on to promote the integration of refugees). Then, guided by EUROCLIO and the consortium partners, they dived into their materials, further structuring the activities and defining future steps to be taken.
Materials will continue to be developed during the summer, also by means of piloting throughout Europe. The Consortium and Developers will meet again at the beginning of November 2019 in Frankfurt, Germany, hosted by the Eintracht Frankfurt Museum.
In the coming weeks, we will publish a complete report on the Bucharest Short Term Staff Training: Stay Tuned to know more about the event and its results!
* Project implemented with the financial support of the Erasmus+ Programme of the European Union as part of the initiative “Football History for Inclusion – Innovative collaborations of school education and youth through the prism of local football history for social inclusion and diversity”.
The 3rd Transnational Project Meeting for the Football Makes History project took place in Bucharest, Romania on the 6th of May 2019.
The partner organisations: Anne Frank House, EUROCLIO, Eintracht Frankfurt Museum, Evenzo Consultancy, Fare Network and the Romanian Football Federation, met in order to discuss the development of the project and further develop the strategy to successfully bring the project to fruition.
An evaluation of the Short-Term Staff training that took place from the 2nd -5th of May in Bucharest was performed, and specific intellectual outcomes of the project were discussed. Among them, the results of the survey for the Needs Assessment were analysed, the design of the Policy Recommendations was presented and the tentative design of the Public Awareness Campaigns were addressed.
This meeting will be followed up during the next Transnational Project Meeting, which will take place in Frankfurt am Main, during the 8th and 9th of October, in preparation for the subsequent Short-Term Staff Training, taking place in early November 2019 in Frankfurt.
* Project implemented with the financial support of the Erasmus+ Programme of the European Union as part of the initiative “Football History for Inclusion – Innovative collaborations of school education and youth through the prism of local football history for social inclusion and diversity.
History educators like learning history and want to know more. They also believe that history education is key to become responsible and active citizens. These are, at the end of the day, some of the main reasons that pushed them to pursue a career in history (and citizenship) education. Students, on the other hand, often do not choose to learn history. The majority of them follows history as a compulsory school subject, failing to understand its relevance and often finding it boring or, in some extreme cases, useless.
How can we better engage students in history? How can we make history teaching meaningful for them? It is with this questions in mind that the participants to the 26th EUROCLIO Annual Conference approached the Discussion Tables on Friday 05 April.
The tables, led by 5 EUROCLIO Ambassadors and Friends, dived into five different aspects of how to make history teaching meaningful for all students. They were characterised by exchanges, discussions, and proposed a series of concrete solutions and approaches to history in the classroom.
How to approach (European) history in an innovative manner?
How to depart from the classical frontal lesson or group work, to better grasp students’ attention? Focusing on this question, participants agreed that they would like to depart from political history, which is often considered boring by pupils. Many alternatives were suggested, including:
Social history and everyday life
The history of concepts (such as racism, civilisation, or diversity)
Oral and generations’ history
In this way, participants argued, students would be able to feel the history taught in the classroom as theirs, and will feel more engaged.
Participants also agreed that there are, in students’ everyday life, special hooks that can be used to connect to history. For example, students might be interested in fashion or in sport. Referring to the history of a specific trend, or to the life stories of some players, could create the opening teachers were looking for to tackle historical events.
How to make the most of artefacts’ use in the classroom?
The use of historical artefacts in the classroom was identified by participants as one of the many possible approaches to make history education more innovative. However, it is not a straightforward approach: it is not enough to bring an object in the classroom and ask students to reflect on it. The interpretation of an artefacts’ meaning requires a particular skillset.
For this reason, a proper use of artefacts is subject to cooperation between students, teachers, and museum curators. Each one, in fact, brings a different approach to the object, thus making the analysis more complete.
The use of artefacts is particularly suited to touch upon the topic of the history of ordinary people, which has been frequently referred to during the Annual Conference.
The uncapped potential of popular history
Popular history, an approach to history that appeals to the wider public by means of media, games, and literature, has an untapped potential to bring history to life. Participants listed a series of popular history means that can be used in the classroom. This list includes:
If all these means could help engage students in history education, at the same time it is important to equip pupils with the knowledge and skills necessary to fully comprehend the topic at hand. For this reason, it is important to treat the material as resources, that have to be objectively analysed and contextualised. This can be done, participants argued, by promoting an interdisciplinary approach to the game or visual at hand, asking for example art teachers to participate.
Where were ordinary people? How did they react?
Where there ordinary people in the middle ages? How did the Solidarity Movement influence the life of 16-year-old students in Gdansk? These and other questions are of high relevance for students during history classes. Starting from these questions, it is possible to grasp students’ attention and not only introduce historical events, but also develop skills such as historical empathy.
The life of ordinary people can be brought to the classroom in many ways. For example, by means of the analysis of primary sources such as letters or diaries, when available. Another technique warmly recommended during this session was the use of interview, in which students are tasked to ask each other, a parent, or other possible interviewees, about the five events that had the biggest impact on their lives.
Finally, it was also suggested to reverse the question and ask students: how did ordinary people impact on big events?
How to react to history in the making?
Building on the panel on history in the making, teachers also discussed how history can best be linked to current affairs. To do so, they proposed a straightforward approach to the matter. First, they said, you should list all the current events that qualify as history in the making. Then, you can build parallels between these and past events. This parallel, participants proved with a brainstorming, is easy to draw, and connects current events to parts of the history curriculum.
For example, participants listed as cases of history in the making:
Global Warming, connected with the history of industrialization and with the protest generations in the 60s;
The migration crisis and the history of asylum seeking during the Second World War;
Brexit and the upcoming European elections connected with history of the European Union.
At the same time, participants across all the tables agreed that, to carry out the approaches mentioned, they would have needed more time to prepare the lessons, and a certain degree of freedom in choosing their own curriculum. They also underlined the importance of interdisciplinary approaches, that can further help students to develop historical and critical thinking skills.
The discussions originated in the discussion tables became recurrent throughout the conference. Topics were touched upon again during workshops, and additional concrete answers were proposed and agreed upon.
In the early stage of the Learning to Disagree project, Georg Eckert Institute researchers performed a needs assessment, to collect the opinions and input from educators on the issue of debate, dialogue, and discussion in the classroom. Six focus group discussions were held, involving 25 participants from 23 European countries. Based on the data collected, a survey was developed, which gathered information from 117 respondents.
A number of findings were made based on the data collected. Firstly, the inquiry identified a working definition of contested issues, which refer mostly to disputes based on competing, often irreconcilable values. Contested issues were mostly found in recent history, and were often of a national rather than international character. Concrete examples of contested issues teachers deal with in the classroom are both World Wars, Fascism, Communism, the Cold War, and migration, among others.
Participants of the focus groups and respondents from the survey identified dialogue, discussions and debates as tools of paramount importance in order to encourage students to deal with multiple perspectives on contested issues. The ability of educators to implement these tools is often hindered by factors such as a lack of resources representing different viewpoints, the duty of neutrality of educators, ingrained nationalism in society, and political pressure by authorities.
From the data collected, three main teaching approaches to contested issues were identified: the critical thinking, the “battling” stereotypes and the creation of empathy approaches. The critical thinking approach is based on critical assessment of sources taken from a variety of perspectives, underlining how different societal groups experienced the same events differently, and encouraging an understanding of history as a complex, multi-perspective discipline. Secondly, the “battling” stereotypes engages students directly on biases they may have. Students are confronted with the historical wrongdoings of their own social groups, and challenged on their potential lack of knowledge on minorities and other perspectives. Lastly, the creating empathy approach attempts emotionally engage students in order to prompt feelings of genuine interest and care, which will aid the creation of empathy in the classroom.
These findings identified in the Preliminary Needs Assessment will inform the creation of material for the next intellectual outputs of the Learning to Disagree project, such as the exemplar content the teacher’s guides, the training package and, eventually, the recommendations to policymakers.
EUROCLIO Annual Conference took place from 4 to 7 April. More than 140 history
and citizenship educators from 39 different countries met in the beautiful city
of Gdansk, Poland. They immersed in the topic Bringing History to Life:
making history education meaningful for all students.
The conference saw the debut of three new programme elements: a critical movie screening, a plenary workshop, and a Historiana feedback session. To dive into the conference theme participants had the opportunity to attend the screening of the documentary film “The Warsaw Uprising” before the official opening of the event. This movie is composed of original footage recorded during the 1944 Uprising, colored in a laboratory and pieced together in a fictional story. Introduced by Dr. Mazur, head of the education department at the Warsaw Uprising Museum, the movie sparked lively discussions on the concepts of history in the making, historical truth, and on the use of movies in the classroom.
four-day training, participants took part to workshops, discussion tables,
panel discussions, school visits, and on-site learning activities, all aiming
at exploring the reasons for and the ways to make history meaningful and
engaging for students. With a collection of 23 different workshops, visits to 4
different schools, and in-depth discussions on the educational programmes of
the European Solidarity Centre and the World War 2 Museum, participants went
home with brand new and practical ideas on how to bring history to life in
day of the conference was characterized by two additional new elements. In the
morning, more than 50 attendants took part to the first ever Historiana
feedback session. They were introduced to new features in Historiana’s
eLearning Environment that are being developed, These “building blocks” will
provide more options for teachers who would like to create their own learning
resources using Historiana. The feedback collected from participants will
directly influence the design, user experience and functionalities of the
Jacek Staniszewski and Richard Kennett delivered the very first plenary
workshop in the history of EUROCLIO Annual Conferences. They discussed the
theme “Why teaching history is more important than ever before”, and introduced
participants to a variety of activities that can be carried out in the
classroom to help students understand the complexity of historical figures and
events and to encourage them to take a multiperspective view on the Second
It has been
an intensive conference, characterized by debates and discussions on what makes
history learning meaningful. How to react to history in the making? How to help
teachers in preparing students to challenge historical interpretations?
Moreover, it has been a unique exchange opportunity, in which new friendships
were created and networks were strengthened. Over the course of the coming
weeks, we will share several in-depth articles highlighting aspects of the
programme, for those who could not attend the conference, but of course also
for participants who would like to refresh their memory!