Crossing Borders: Following historical routes across national boundaries

Birgit Göbel EUROCLIO

This Best Practice was created by Jan Siefert

Jan Siefert studied History, Biology and German at University Duisburg-Essen. He focused on the History of Medicine (History of the great plague 1348-1352) and Mentality of Samurai in Tokugawa-Japan. He has also taught German at the International University of Kaifeng. For the past ten years, Jan has been teaching Global History at a middle school in Germany and has also been involved in publishing both scientific and school materials. His dissertation is about the empirical measurement of intercultural understanding, focusing on Japanese History. His actual project focuses on the effect of digital materials on History classes.

JAN'S INSPIRATION

How did you come up with the idea:

 “I finished high school in 2004 and since then history classes have not changed much. But the world has changed a lot since then!”

BEST PRACTICE

INTRODUCTION TO THE TEACHING PRACTICE:

In Jan’s global history classes, he focuses on intercultural understanding or the so-called history of mentality and personalisation, as common principles.

Drawing materials from his Ph.D. about the mentality of the samurai in late Tokugawa-era and his current project map for the silk road, he uses fictional texts and narratives to teach about global history. These types of sources, on which the Best Practice is based upon, seem to be more suitable than more traditional factual and historical sources for the purposes of teaching Global History.

To visualise places and routes where history took place (many students find it hard to imagine or picture these), Jan organises lessons following multiple points of interest on a map. In every city or place, as well as interesting events, there is an effort to connect it to a piece of history and geography.

APPLYING THIS TEACHING PRACTICE: 

Teachers may choose a topic such as the Silk Road or the Roman Empire, and instead of exploring it in traditional chronological terms, they can look at social practice or phenomenon, for example, trade, as a focus point. By changing the focus, this Best Practice can give a more accurate insight into how everyday life was experienced. 

 This Best Practice encourages looking and reserving space for certain social groups which are often underrepresented. For example, women, children, and minorities. It should be noted that this approach will thus need a slight reorganisation of the material you already have. School textbooks don’t always have all of these perspectives, in which case a University textbook may be more useful.

 The Best Practice utilises maps to demonstrate how a factor such as trade influences different people across national borders. Questions can be asked such as: How and why trade existed between cities/peoples. As well as how trade might have caused internal and external migrations of people.

 

Diary entries

One activity within this is for students to create a diary entry, imagining themselves in the shoes of another person, perhaps living in a different area and in a different era. The family should include at least one man, a woman, and a child, to represent varying perspectives of daily life. There are however limitations, for example, not all religions can be represented in one family. This activity encourages students to think about what everyday life would have been like for each family member. What occupied their thoughts, what worries did they have, what were the main activities of their day?

Take for an example a story about a Chinese family living and trading over the Silk Road. As travel over the Silk Road becomes more and more dangerous, they may consider moving elsewhere or seeking other job opportunities. Perhaps a family member comes to visit and gives another perspective. Maybe the family thinks about what they hear from other countries e.g. Mongols. Doubts can also be expressed: What are the worries of the people who stay behind?

HOW TO ASSESS THE STUDENT’S WORK:

There are various options for this and teachers are invited to choose (or pick & mix) the one that is most suited to their class and circumstance:

  • Presentations of the maps
  • Learning phases
  • Exam with shorter exercises such as a Kahoot quiz

 

USEFUL TIPS:

How to solve the problem of curricula constraints?

  • Don’t go into too much depth
  • Be selective in chosen topics
  • Not interesting topics at end of the year and most important at the start

 

How to adapt to students of different ages and writing abilities? Jan recommends that for:

  • Grade 5 and 6- students need to write a lot. Thus this best practice can be tailored to be less about history and more as a trigger to get students writing. Students can then present in class the text they wrote- another added skill to be practiced.
  • Grade 7 to 10- older and more independent students can have greater flexibility and use role-play and theatre. For the project element, students can have the choice in making; photographs, posters, and (SRP) scenes.

 

A tip from Jan himself: Good readers often do well in history classes, whilst those who struggle typically do less well. However, the content is not necessarily the problem, but the assessment method could play a huge role. Jan suggests for example to change the format from a typical written exam to a more practical format, for example, to create a poster or a short video. 

 

ADVANTAGES:

  • Opportunity to enhance understanding of the other/3rd person perspective
  • Covers often overlooked topics in history education, such as women, children, and migrants.
  • It focuses on a personal history that deals with everyday life.
  • Not nation-specific. The practice can easily be transferred to teachers from various geological backgrounds.
  • Low cost, as it does not require a large investment. Maps can usually be sourced free of charge or very cheaply. Illustrators and artists will require an expense but can be seen as an ‘optional extra’.
  • The Best Practice does not necessarily require advanced technological equipment.
  • The teaching practice can be conducted both online and offline.

 

LIMITATIONS:

  • The level of educational materials could perhaps be too complex for students of younger ages to read and understand.
  • Resources must be made available, maps must be created prior to the lesson by the educator.
  • As the topics covered are usually not mainstream, perhaps slightly more time and effort is needed to research and discover these often unheard voices.

 

CONCLUSION:

Jan’s future plans for the teaching practice: to continue with the silk road as a personal project. Next year Jan will transition to University where he will do a Ph.D. focussing on the effects of digital media on learning outcomes in handling texts in history class.

 

You can contact Jan at: jan.siefert@uni-due.de

To find examples of maps, stories, and worksheets, please see the files attached. Please note these are all in German but do still provide an idea of how the teaching practice can be realised.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

Below are a number of resources for acquiring maps and getting into contact with artists/illustrators:

 

* The information presented in this blog post is extracted from an interview between Jan Siefert, Birgit Gӧbel, and Adriana Fuertes Palomares as part of the Critical History project and the collection of best teaching practices on Global dimensions of national history and postcolonial history, and which took place on October 13, 2021, in an online format.

In Memoriam to Martin Roberts

Joke Van der Leeuw-Roord Association, EUROCLIO ,

In Memoriam Martin Roberts (1941-2021),

Member of the first EuroClio Board and Bulletin editor 1992-1997

 

Martin Roberts died peacefully surrounded by his family on the 7th November 2021. His health suffered in recent years some serious setbacks and it had been slowly failing, especially since the summer of this year 

Martin Roberts started as a history teacher in Leeds, Essex and Bedfordshire. Between 1981 and 2002 he was Headteacher of the Cherwell School, Oxford. He was member of the Historical Association (HA), frequently on the HA Council and from 1991-93 Deputy President.  He contributed to the development of the History National Curriculum for England through its many iterations. After his retirement worked on the Academic Steering Committee of the UK Prince’s Teaching Institute. 


Mike Maddison, who was the National Lead for History from 2008-15 commented that: .... In all our discussions, his knowledge, experience and expertise shone through, and all were focused on improving what was happening in lessons in schools. He wanted pupils of all ages to have a rich diet and to take into adulthood a clear knowledge of the past, why history matters and why it must be understood by all. He was a fountain of knowledge and a great raconteur too...He was a passionate advocate of history teaching and history teachers, his contribution was immense, and he will be missed.


A delegate for the Historical Association Martin Roberts was present in 1991 at the famous Council of Europe conference History Teaching in the New Europe, in Bruges, Belgium, where historians from East and West were meeting for the first time since 1949. He also participated as Historical Association delegate in the founding EuroClio meeting in November 1992 in Strasbourg, France. At this meeting, Martin was elected a member of the EuroClio Board and volunteered to become editor of the EuroClio Bulletin. A complex endeavour in a time without the internet and in a period when EuroClio had still two working languages: English and French. Martin worked in close cooperation with Claude Alain Clerc, the Swiss French speaking EuroClio Vice-president, to ensure that the Bulletin appeared twice a year in the two official languages during the Nineteen Nineties. 

In the first editorial of Bulletin 1 of November 1993, Martin Roberts commented that he wanted to write about developments in history teaching in Europe. And remarkably, in this very first Bulletin there was already an article about history and information technology. Martin also edited thematic Bulletins on topics such as Teaching about Potsdam and its Consequences and History Teaching, a Key to Democracy both related to the EuroClio Annual Conferences in Berlin and Neuchatel.    


In Bulletin 5 (Winter 1996) Martin Roberts reflected on the deep impact made on him by his discussions with friends in EuroClio as well as by his editing of the Bulletin for four years. He wrote that such conversations “made me think harder about the purposes of school history teaching than at any time since I started work in the 1960s. Compared to 1966, I am much more an instrumentalist. School history with the right choice of subject matter and emphasis on particular skills is the most significant subject in the curriculum if young people are to gain a serious understanding of democracy with its inherent fragility and a healthy sense of national identity which is sensitive to the tensions between national and international needs”. An argument which seems still valid in 2021. 


In 1995, Martin Roberts led the English team in the project 'Encouraging Democratic Values through History Education', the first big EuroClio European Union project, sponsored within the Phare/Tacis Democracy Programme. Almost 100 history educators participated in this project with study visits to the Czech Republic, Denmark, England, The Netherlands, Scotland and Slovakia. The project ended in Prague in December 1995 with a big Conferenced with all the project participants organised by Maria Homerova and Helena Mandelova, very active Board Members of the Czech History Teachers Association (ASUD).  

The first EuroClio Board worked very well together, and enjoyed meeting each other. These meetings were most often in my house in The Hague, and were wonderfully well catered for by my husband Jan, who provided excellent food for us. The summer meetings were in Diksmuide, Flanders, in the house and garden of the Belgium Board member Paull Vandepitte. During those meetings Paul’s wife Alice lovingly looked after us. In 1997, one year before his mandate officially ended, Martin decided, with great regret, to step down from the Board, in order to avoid all the Board members retiring at the same time. He wanted to assure continuity and asked Sue Bennett, who later was elected the second EuroClio President, to take his place as Bulletin Editor.


I remember Martin as a very passionate historian, didactic thinker and School head. I was very happy to serve with him in the first board of EuroClio, and he was always an inspiration to me and other less learned and knowledgeable colleagues, whom he met with respect, interest and a great sense of humour. He always remembered that our main task as teachers is to serve and facilitate the learning and development of our pupils and students. Jens Jørgen Dalsgaard, EuroClio Board Member 1992-1998.


In 2004 Martin Roberts edited After the Wall. History Teaching in Europe since 1989. This publication addresses a wide variety of topics among others as History teaching, national identity and citizenship, minority issues, textbooks and information technology. The book was in 2008 extensively reviewed by W. Tulasiewicz in Compare: A Journal of Comparative and International Education. And in 2020 Yosanne Vella states in her article The Development and Progress of the ‘Source Method’ as a History Teaching Method: Practical Classroom Examples from Malta for the Palgrave Handbook on History and Social Studies Education that After the Wall is “a classical work on the European history teaching of the period”


W. Tulasiewicz 

‘With 33 individual contributions written by 46 authors set to deliver a critical account of recent changes in the teaching of history in 27 countries, and allocated, according to a system of summarizing themes, to nine chapters (plus an appendix), this volume is an ambitious project. Given the growing interest in history teaching in schools in Europe, this is also an eminently topical book, the title bound to catch the attention not only of history teachers and historiographers but of wider groups of educationists and politicians.” 


After this last big endeavour for EuroClio Martin Roberts actively withdrew from the European scene and concentrated his energy on education and particularly history education in England. He leaves behind a big oeuvre of school history textbooks and articles arguing for high quality history education.


 "His passion for education and his commitment to what is best for young people is both infectious and influential not only in his own school but across Oxfordshire." Richard Howard, principal education adviser at Oxfordshire County Council.


In recent years I was planning to visit him in Oxford by using the new direct Eurostar connection from Rotterdam to London. However, the Eurostar company first postponed the beginning of the connection several times and when it finally would run, covid interfered. I am really very sorry not have been able to visit him. We exchanged occasionally (long) mails sharing our passion for history education and our concern about the Brexit. When the message of his death arrived in my mail box I felt sad. The world becomes slowly more empty around me, and some of these losses unleash more emotion than others. I shall miss Martin very much.

 

Joke van der Leeuw-Roord, First EuroClio President.

Sue Bennett, co-author, Second Bulletin Editor and Second EuroClio President.

Statement and appeal on Memorial

EuroClio EUROCLIO ,

EuroClio has joined a consortium of organizations and networks led by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Osteuropakunde (DGO; German Association for East European Studies) and the Verband der Historiker und Historikerinnen Deutschlands (VDH; Association of Historians in Germany) in expressing our profound concern for  the recent announcement by the Russian Office of the Prosecutor General to dissolve the well-known and much-respected civil rights organization and historical society "Memorial International“.

Jointly, we launch two statements to the Russian authorities and to other national governments and the European Union, respectively, to help safeguard Memorial.

Please find here our joint appeal to national governments and EU bodies to defend Memorial.

Please find here our appeal to Russian authorities to end the assault on Memorial.

A new EuroClio project: Who were the victims of the National Socialists?

Enabling young people to gain a deeper understanding of the roots of discrimination in the present by researching the victims of National Socialists is the goal of our new project. To achieve this, we will design, develop, and test local youth-empowered history projects around the key question “Who were the victims of the National Socialists?” in six countries. This will be done by an interdisciplinary cross-border team of history educators, specialists in the history of National Socialism, and museum educators in close cooperation with youth and community members.

Rationale for this project

On paper all citizens are treated equally. Constitutions do not differentiate between sex, gender or religion, ability, and all citizens above a certain age have voting rights.  The reality, however, is very different: Every day there are people in Europe who are suffering from racism, LGBTIQ hostility, anti-Semitism, anti-gypsism, discrimination, and xenophobia. The lack of justice and equality in society, makes people lose faith in democracy and human rights, give space for nationalism and populism, and undermines democratic values and systems. The best chance to realise a future that does justice to the promise of democracy and human rights, is education. To achieve this, there is a lot of potential to learn from the history of the National Socialist in Europe, especially since is the topic that might be most common in the history curricula in Europe.

Youth empowered history projects

As part of this project, students and educators from 6 countries representing North Europe, West Europe, Central Europe, East Europe, South Europe, and South East Europe. Our idea so far, is that students will start learning from the sources they like - such as games, tv series and books. They will then continue learning through place-based learning at museums, memory sites, archives, and NGO’s, and use their findings to improve their answers. Finally, they will learn from historical sources – selected by their teacher - to get an even fuller understanding of who the victims were. By this point, students will have acquired deep knowledge of all victims, including those who received less attention in the past (such as people with disabilities, Roma, Sinti, and Travellers, LGBTIQ, political dissenters). As a final step, the students will us their acquired knowledge to reflect on contemporary issues and think what can be done to prevent historical injustices to continue in the present. In each step of the process, the students will work together with peers, share research findings and lessons learned.

Outcome of the project

The project will result in several outputs that EuroClio and the Max Mannheimer Study Centre, intend to use as part of their educational programmes and membership services, and which will enable them to spread this as an inspiring practice across Europe:

  • A promotional video with footage from students and educators who are directly involved in the project that explains the rationale for the project, demonstrates how the project works in practice, and convinces educators to explore and use the toolkit.
  • A toolkit with a step-by-step instruction on how to design the history project for students, support materials (such as the peer-to-peer tutorials) for each step, including preparation and assessment. The toolkit will be translated in the official languages of the countries where the student history projects take place.
  • A research report on the effectiveness of the project in terms of learning outcomes.
  • An internal and external evaluation of the project.

A say for communities affected by the history

For the development of the project, we will consult representatives and members of the Jewish community, LGBTIQ community, Roma, Sinti, and Travellers, and people with disabilities on the design of the toolkit, and seek advice from academics who are specialised on the history of these groups during the National Socialist era. For each of these group there will be a Council Member representing this group.

A new partnership

The Max Mannheimer Study Centre is an extra-school educational institution that aims to enable, first and foremost, young people from throughout the world to take a more in-depth look at contemporary history. The educational services include single or multiple study day courses for school classes, youth association groups, students, and other interested groups. The Max Mannheimer Study Centre is running a variety of projects, including international youth exchanges, and offers educational programme for schools, teachers in training, and NGO’s. The focus is placed on examining and discussing the National Socialist period in general, with special reference given to the history of the Dachau concentration camp. Our joint project offers the Study Centre an opportunity to make teaching about the Holocaust easier in Europe, to reach more teachers and more students through participant-centred-learning. The project teams will benefit a lot from the knowledge and experience of the Study Centre, on the Holocaust and crimes committed by the National Socialists.

A new agenda

The project is supported as part of the Education Agenda NS-Injustice, an initiative of the German Federal Ministry of Finance (BNF) and the EVZ Foundation Remembrance, Responsibility and Future, which was created in response to the worrying increase in antisemitism, antigypsyism, racism and LGBTIQ hostility and acts of violence and attacks, such as the recent attacks in Hanau and Halle, are occurring with increasing frequency. The idea is that lesson about the National Socialist past and the visualization of experiences of those affected by persecution, will reinforce democratic attitudes, and counteract antisemitism, antigypsyism, racism and LGBTIQ hostility, and project like these, are needed because learning about this period is on the decrease, with generation of survivors and with increasing temporal distance.

Next steps

The next steps will be to work with the project advisors and partners, on the human resourcing of the project. As soon as we are complete, we will all the team members together for a work meeting early next year at the Max Mannheimer Study Centre in Dachau.

Are you interested in this new EuroClio project or believe that you can help us achieve the project outcomes? Please email Executive Director Steven Stegers (secretariat@euroclio.eu).

In Memoriam of Annemarie Cottaar

On the 6th of October 2021 Annemarie Cottaar, Dutch historian, passed away. Annemarie lived to be only 66 years old. She contributed significantly to the history of different groups of migrants in the Netherlands.

Annemarie was born in Amsterdam in 1955 and grew up in The Hague. She continued her secondary education at the evening Athenaeum (preparatory academic education). There she met Wim Willems, who became her partner for life and with whom she would write several papers and books. She studied History at Leiden University. She told me they wrote their history masters’ theses already together - really romantic in my eyes - about the so called Indische Nederlanders (East-Indian-Dutch immigrants who came to The Netherlands during and after the Indonesian National Revolution)

Our paths crossed. The path of the migration historian Annemarie Cottaar and the history educators of EuroClio, in particular that of Steven Stegers (at the time Senior Manager, nowadays Executive Director) and of myself (member since 1991 and currently EuroClio Ambassador). Our paths crossed at the start of a new EuroClio initiative: An international education programme called Historiana - Your Portal to the Past. With Historiana, EuroClio was developing an online educational tool that offers access to trans-border, comparative approaches to history and heritage, as an alternative to a printed history of Europe and beyond.

We found each other at the end of January 2010 in a snow-and-ice-covered suburb of Berlin,  to deliberate the how and what of the first case studies for EuroClio’s brand-new digital component 'Historiana', conceived by Steven Stegers. The first Historiana project should be “Discovering Diversity”. And the theme became “People on the Move: An integrative approach towards the history of migration”. It was based on the experiences of migrants, with data collected and retrieved following a fixed pattern of questions. This framework with its standard set of key questions would allow comparisons between the different modules. This approach was right up Annemarie’s alley. Based on thorough archival research and in-depth interviews she had already published several accessible books on groups of newcomers in the Netherlands.  She had knowledge of the collections of the Centre for the History of Migrants (Het Centrum voor de Geschiedenis van Migranten). And at Leiden University, she had developed the Spoorzoekers (Track Seekers) Project. This tracker method trains children of migrants to collect and describe photos and documents from their own families, in order to add them to the collective heritage. In this way a selection of these were brought together in an online database, the Historisch Beeldarchief Migranten (Historical Image Archive of Migrants), forming a unique source for Dutch migration history. Annemarie pointed to the power of images for research. At last Steven found also the newly published website about ‘Five centuries of Migration’ hosted by the International Institute of Social History (IISH). The driving power behind both initiatives was Annemarie Cottaar.

Back to Berlin. In rooms of the Freie Universität, the first ideas of Professor Bob Stradling from Edinburgh were developed in consultation with the international team of developers gathered. We brainstormed which topics to choose and how to approach them. We thought of case studies. Every developer thought aloud: which group of migrants s/he would like and be able to tackle and also what period in the history of his/her country. Annemarie and I worked cordially together in our different roles of expertise. We looked for successful migrants on their way to integration in the new homeland. Annemarie knew of Roma caravan dwellers, Italian terrazzo workers, Chinese restaurant owners, Moroccan and Turkish guest workers. We rather quickly decided to base our case study on her book about 'Sisters from Suriname' (2003).

Dutch Prime Minister Drees' call shortly after World War II was powerful and beautiful: ”Please, nurses of Suriname, come to the Netherlands. We need you and you have an advantage: you already speak the language.” Annemarie had studied how the group of Surinamese young women were received in Dutch society. In live interviews they spoke about how they were treated and felt recognised in the hospitals by educators and patients, how far they integrated in society. Annemarie had followed the lives of several of them in the Netherlands and during the commemoration service for Annemarie on 14 October I realised my seat was on the same row as one of the former nurses.

With the pattern of basic questions Annemarie always managed to find the right sources to get answers to the key issues at hand. At the time Steven noticed that “we were the only couple”, the other members of the Historiana Editing Team operated more separately. He remembered the harmony of our collaboration. We both enjoyed the work a lot. I still remember how we proudly presented in The Hague the PowerPoint “Nurses from Suriname”, which she had made from her archive with the material discussed. And she told how the book was followed by a well-visited exhibition in both the Netherlands and in Paramaribo.

We continued to work on interesting tasks based on sources. Six modules were developed by the team during capacity building and hands-on workshops. In January 2011 the last of these workshops was organised in Istanbul:  the 2nd Historiana Capacity Building Seminar together with a training seminar for Turkish history educators. The last editing meeting took place in London. The project finalised in 2011, produced six historical online case studies on groups of people that were on the move.

In Istanbul, Annemarie and I stayed two days longer. There it happened that Annemarie said to me, on 24th January 2011: “I got so tired of walking, yesterday, l will visit a doctor back home.” It turned out to be a pleura cancer; she would live another ten years. We stayed friends in a less intensive way. Her partner, Wim, sent exactly 50 “progress messages” of Annemarie’s well-being and less-well-being till the end of this summer...

We remember Annemarie as a refreshing friend, a groundbreaking and original thinker; when dealing with major social themes she never lost sight of the human dimension. She strengthened Euroclio's mission and attitude how to deal with the past. What struck me in her character was her strength and self-confidence, her unfrozen way of knowing what she wants, her frankness, her straight opinion. We matched; we kept our friendship alive during her ten years of struggle for live. I miss a dear friend, she stays in my heart.

The EuroClio community will also miss a dear friend and we will not forget her.

Written by Ineke Veldhuis-Meester, EuroClio Ambassador, 6 November 2021

 

 

Call for authors: Online Teaching in the Visegrad Region

Birgit Göbel EUROCLIO

How can we conduct effective online teaching? This is the question that EuroClio’s latest project: Online Teaching in the Visegrad Region, aims to answer. We are looking for enthusiastic team members from the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, and Slovakia to design and develop the 8 ready-to-use Online Learning Activities as part of the project. Do you want to be involved? Take a look at our Call for Authors (the pdf can also be found below) and see if you could be a good fit for the project! Attention: The deadline for applications is Sunday 2 January 2022.

 

 

Download the PDF file .

Press release: EuroClio and National Committee of Russian Historians issue joint resolution at the World Congress of School History Teachers

EuroClio is pleased to have joined forces with the National Committee of Russian Historians in co-organising the 1st World Congress of School History Teachers (Moscow, 4-7 October 2021). The Congress convened more than 300 history educators from all continents discussing both thematic and methodological issues of history education. We invite you to also read or watch the opening speech by EuroClio Executive Director Steven Stegers. 

As a result of the Congress, EuroClio and the National Committee of Russian Historians have issued a joint resolution calling for increased international cooperation on history education. The resolution has been made available in both the English and Russian languages. 

For media enquiries in English, please contact Steven Stegers, Executive Director, tel. +31648078702

For media enquiries in Russian, please contact Catherine Savitsky, Project Manager, tel. +31641945520

The value of innovative and responsible history education.

Steven Segers EUROCLIO ,

Opening speech by EuroClio Executive Director Steven Stegers at the World Congress of School History Teachers,
Moscow, Russia, 5 October 2021

I would like to start by expressing my appreciation to organizers of this Congress, who have managed to bring together history educators from across the world and decision makers from all over the world, to learn from and talk to each other. Initiatives like these are much need to counter stereotypes, and overcome differences to achieve common goals.

It is a sign of hope that we can be here.

Russia was the first country where EuroClio worked intensely. I sincerely hope this meeting will be the start for more cooperation in the years to come.

Today I would like to speak about the value of innovative and responsible history education, why it matters, and by doing so clarify what we mean with this concept.

So, why do I believe it does matter?

History education is uniquely suited to teach about challenges on global and local level: Climate change, the fragility of democracy and competing world views, are just a few. It is the best chance that we have to create a better future.

The interpretative nature of history - where historians offer competing interpretations of the same facts - forces students to think for themselves. When students are presented with different interpretations, they have to ask which interpretation they find most convincing.

As a result, students learn how to respectfully disagree, how to convince others, how to be challenged in their own thinking, and how to deal with uncertainty. They will realize that the way people see history is influenced by their beliefs and experiences.

With an understanding of difference, ability to put themselves in the shoes of others and willingness to consider alternative explanation, these students more likely to find peaceful solutions to conflicts, and deal with difficult pasts.

The historical method that is at the heart of history education is the perfect antidote to fake news and disinformation.

Student learn to look for sources, to analyze and interpret them, to consider different explanations, to read between the lines, to check facts, and to adjust conclusions in the light of new evidence.

Student learn to resist manipulation.

 

There is more that studying history can contribute to the personal development of young people. History enables students to ask questions and makes them curious. This includes seeking answers to difficult questions, thinking about moral dilemmas and reacting to historical injustices.

This helps them to develop a moral compass.

All of this helps students to succeed at school, but also in life.

How to achieve all of this in practice?

Well, it is easier said than done.

Students need the right level of challenge and support. If it is too easy, students get bored. If it is too difficult, they get frustrated.

Keeping up to date with the latest research is challenging. Everyday new research is done and keeping up with this takes time. The same applies for the research of historical source materials and the creation of learning experiences that are tailored to the needs of individual students.

In many countries, educational systems do not support innovative and responsible history education.

Many educators are struggling with the amount of content that they need to cover in the curriculum. This leaves very little time to go in depth, to teach students how to do their own reach. This makes it difficult to teach students how to think, instead of telling them what to think.

The lack of choice in the curriculum is another challenge that many educators face. This makes it difficult to focus on those questions and topics that resonate with the students, that are meaningful for them.

A final challenge for many educators that I would like to highlight here, are the exams that are not assessing the right things. If students who challenge a teacher, textbook, or other authority on the basis of solid evidence and sounds arguments are punished instead of rewarded, there is no room for critical and independent thinking.

I greatly admire educators who are able to make history teaching motivating and meaningful despite all these challenges. I would like to express my gratitude to all the educators who are spending time with us despite the demanding jobs. I realise that you being here, means you have to catch up with more work later.

Let’s make this worth your time.

I wish us all a great congress.

 

Steven Stegers

Executive Director
EuroClio, European Association of History Educators

Holocaust education in Kosovo

Donika Xhemajli EUROCLIO , ,

History Teacher Association of Kosovo publish handbook on holocaust education    

As a result of the involvement of History Teachers Association of Kosovo, HTAK, in EuroClio’s project “History that Connects ‘’, its members were offered opportunities to take part in many trainings and different study visits in order to develop their professional capacity.

As part of these activities, one of the Association members participated in training at the Yad Vashem – World Memorial Holocaust Center in Israel. This was the beginning of the contact and communication required to start cooperation. The Association did not cease in its efforts to find opportunities for internal support for conducting a study visit at Yad Vashem which would involve a larger number of members. This was because Kosovo teachers needed to improve their professional ability to teach on the Holocaust in their classroom lessons.

The Association gained support from ForumZFD, a German organization that works on Dealing with the Past and Peace Education. This enabled the initiative to become reality. At first, our initiative was to organize a study visit in Israel and it ended with the publication of alternative teaching material about the Holocaust.

A number of local trainings were also organized, which increased the cooperation with other international organizations involved in this subject. They were: the Center for Historical Research of the Polish Academy of Sciences in Berlin, the Haus der Wannsee-Konferenz, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and the final addition to this group was an NGO called New Perspektiva, which works in Kosovo on opening up thinking on the multi-perspective methodology of teaching history with the aim of encouraging open-minded learning.

In 2017 the HTAK and ForumZFD, with the support from Kosovo Ministry of Education, Science, Technology and Innovation, MESTI, organized a one-week training visit to Yad Vashem.  Afterward, with the support of all the organizations mentioned above, the HTAK members worked on drafting the teaching Handbook on the Holocaust, and in 2021 the Handbook was launched. The Education Minister and the Deputy German Ambassador in Kosovo were present at this event. The Acting Kosovo Ambassador in Israel informed and invited the representatives of Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Yad Vashem, which lead to their participation online. The Handbook is published in three languages, Albanian, Serbian and English, and will be used by history and civic education teachers for classes IX to XII. The Handbook is also published on the official website of the Kosovo Ministry of Education and is accessible for all. The Handbook is in complete harmony with the curricula framework which was approved by MESTI in 2016. 

We believe this Handbook will not only be used by the teachers but it will also have a direct impact on students in Kosovo. They will have the opportunity to learn about the Holocaust from different, original, and verifiable sources. However, the Handbook’s advantage is that it has a multi-perspective approach, which will encourage and develop independent and critical thinking. At the same time, this methodology can be used by the publishing houses in Kosovo as a model to advance school textbooks in the future by using different sources which will have a multi-perspective approach.

 

 

Contested Histories Podcast: Warsaw Uprising Museum

Andreas Holtberget EUROCLIO, Project Updates , , ,
In a special collaboration with Talk Eastern Europe, EuroClio presents “Inside Memory Sites - The Warsaw Uprising Museum.” In this Podcast, the speaker, Maria Kobielska, a memory scholar and assistant professor at the Department of Anthropology of Literature and Cultural Research at the Jagiellonian University in Kraków Poland, offers insight into how to critically evaluate sites such as the Uprising Museum, in terms of the origins and agenda of the museum. She further examines the criticisms of the museum that have stemmed from a variety of perspectives in the 15 years since the Museum first opened its doors.


This Podcast is the first of four within the framework of the “Contested Histories Onsite” project which aims to place Europeans in discussions and debates on multiple historical perspectives and to activate citizens in public involvement of memory-constructions. As part of the EU’s Europe for Citizens programme, the project’s aspiration is rooted in a shared conviction that raising critical questions about the past is fundamental for citizens to develop a critical attitude towards the narratives that are competing with each other in contemporary politics.