Dealing with the challenges of history teaching in an online and offline environment

The first Summer School for History Teachers organised by the Bulgarian History Teachers Association!

The first Summer School for History Teachers organized by the Bulgarian HTA took place in the end of July near
Razlog, a town and ski resort in South-Western Bulgaria (26-29 July 2021). The topic was “How to
make and use resources for history teaching in and online and offline environment”.

23 history educators from all across the country gathered together in person for the first time since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic to reconnect, network, and discuss:

  • Modern trends in history teaching;
  • The ready-made teaching materials created within the project “Transition Dialogue 2019-2021. Dealing with change in democratic ways”, which promote a participatory approach to dealing with transition in post ‘89 Germany and Eastern Europe, with a clear focus on European Civic Education;
  • what is Historiana (www.historiana.eu) and how it can be used to develop (online) history lessons – including sessions on how to create one’s own online resource using the e-Activity Builder.
Participants to the First Summer School organised by the Bulgarian HTA.

Bridget Martin, a history teacher and member of the Historiana Teaching and Learning Team, joined the Summer school 2021. She hosted the training for Historiana. Teachers became familiar with the historical resources on Historiana, both in English and Bulgarian languages. Bridget presented the e-Activity Builder and guided educators in creating their own teaching materials in Historiana based on the use of images (photographs and posters). Bistra Stoimenova dealt with the highlighting tool of e-Activity Builder for written sources.

In the last day of the Summer school educators presented their e-learning activities on Bulgarian history of the Transition after 1989.

The event gave to participants a common space of dialogue where they could share their ideas, problems and solutions. An additional social and cultural program was a nice touch for participants to be more open and creative in their work.

Bistra Stoimenova discusses with participants their eLearning Activities

History teachers evaluated very highly the organization of the Summer school in their feedback. They expressed how the event was very useful for their professional development, as well as a great opportunity to network with colleagues from the country.

They expressed also a desire to make the Summer School in Bulgarian a regular appointment for local teachers and educators.

 

This article was written by Bistra Stoimenova, Bulgarian HTA

Call for partners for Erasmus+ project

Andreas Holtberget Association, EUROCLIO , ,

Call for Partners in potential EU-wide partnership on Teacher Academies

EuroClio is looking for schools, universities, and teacher training institutes that would be interested in joining forces to create an Erasmus+ Teacher Academy, and we are currently collecting expressions of interest with deadline 27 July.

Erasmus+ Teacher Academies are one of the new sets of activities that the EU will fund under the new Erasmus+ Programme. They have been launched in response to the recent surge in studies that reveal how teachers, and especially subject teachers:

  • Do not feel valued in their role
  • Feel they do not receive enough training (especially related to some key challenges such as teaching to students with special education needs).
  • Would like to receive more international training

Broadly speaking, an Erasmus+ Teacher Academy will consist of a group of training or practice schools, initial teacher training institutes, and continued professional development providers. Together, they are part of a project that focuses on digital education / inclusive education / sustainability and that provides quality training opportunities to teachers.

EuroClio we would like to apply for funding to carry out a project that focuses on inclusive education and that develops a training module on teaching inclusive education for ITTIs and two Continued Professional Development Courses.

We are now looking for partners to join forces in this project.

In particular, we are looking for institutes that are:

  • Based in the EU or in Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Republic of North Macedonia, Republic of Serbia and Republic of Turkey;
  • A training or practice school OR an initial teacher training institute OR a provider of continued professional development according to your national legislation;
  • Experienced in inclusive education or willing to learn more about inclusive education;
  • Available in the period 20 August to 03 September for three meetings on the project and to give feedback to the project proposal;
  • Available in the period 01 April 2022 to 31 March 2025 to work together on this project, should we be granted it.

If your institute or association is interested in this opportunity, we would love if you could send us an email expressing your interest by Tuesday 27 July at 17:00 (Amsterdam Time).

Please find the full call for partners here and download the concept note here

 

Annual Conference Keynote Lecture: Dealing with Controversy and Polarisation in the Classroom

Alicia Rijlaarsdam Association, EUROCLIO

Maarten van Alstein, Flemish Peace Institute

Why is it important that we learn to disagree with each other? How can we teach young people to disagree in a democratic and peaceful manner? Maarten van Alstein from the Flemish Peace Institute contextualized and answered these questions during the opening of EuroClio’s 27th Annual Conference. His lecture Dealing with Controversy and Polarisation in the Classroom built on empirical research, democratic theory, and insights from conflict transformation. Based on his research, Maarten van Alstein came to the understanding that schools should be seen as a place where students can explore differences in a constructive manner. Through a wide diversity of methods ranging from dialogue to artistic practice, he made a case for conceptualizing the school as a laboratory for democracy.

Democracy as dialogue

Central to the idea of tackling controversial topics in the classroom is dialogue. As tensions are rising in our society in the form of conflict and polarisation, dialogue is a method which can facilitate deliberation about societal topics and acute questions. Van Alstein illustrated the extremes of democracy with two concepts relating to the digital sphere. The first is the echo chamber, the idea that the digital sphere creates one single voice and erases multiperspectivity. The second concept describes the chaos of tweets in which polarisation and chaos become the norm. As in society, we should take these extremes into account when facilitating dialogue. In the classroom, educators should create space for democratic dialogue ranging between these two extremes.

The meaning of conflict

“Conflict is like oxygen” (Bickmore, 2007 )

The quote illustrates the inevitability of conflict. Both Maarten van Alstein and Kathy Bickmore argued that conflict will always be present in society. The danger lies in the explosion of conflict. The group polarisation theory illustrates how, due to confirmation bias mechanisms, putting a group of likeminded people together will generally lead to polarisation. When people in groups polarize this can be very dangerous, think of hate groups or terrorist cells. However, polarisation and conflict can be used for the better, an example is abolitionism. There are numerous examples of positive change stemming from conflict, the women’s vote or the more recent Black Lives Matter movement. It can be, on the one hand, destructive and dangerous. But, if we are able to manage it well, we can create a force for good. Then if conflict is an ambivalent phenomenon, how do we deal with it?  

Suggestions for pedagogical practices

When dealing with controversy and disagreement in the classroom, recognizing that conflict is inevitable is the first step. When recognizing that conflict is normal, creating dialogue around it becomes easier. How do we translate this concretely to the classroom? At the Keynote Lecture three main suggestions were given.

Tailor your approach in function of what is happening in the classroom

While this may sound like kicking in an open door, the big challenge for educators lies in tailoring the approach to what is happening in the classroom. Finding good techniques for discussing controversy and polarisation requires making a distinction between different scenarios. Each scenario calls for a different approach. First, when the class is in turmoil, a more provocative or extreme discussion may call for depolarizing strategies. Second, controversial issues in the curriculum sometimes steer the educator into a certain direction complicating multi perspectivity. Finally, controversy as pedagogy means looking for multiperspectivity and controversy in the subject matter. This scenario allows for a more open discussion in which artistic pedagogical practices can be used, such as painting.

Defuse harmful forms of polarisation, but keep the space for discussion as open as possible

Creating an open classroom helps students express their opinions freely. When students are comfortable discussing controversial topics their generalized trust increases. Generalized trust means their trust in society and in others. This, in turn, has positive effects on citizenship attitudes as students are able to recognize that conflict is normal in a democratic society. In the classroom educators should be intent on teaching students to disagree. However, it is crucial for students to recognize polarisation. Of course, dialogue has certain limits and the emphasis should be placed on reasonable arguments. Maarten van Alstein advised that the teacher, especially initially, should focus on the language used during discussions. 

A good conversation often starts with a good question

The final suggestion was that a good conversation often starts with a good question. The use of open-ended questions is something educators themselves can train. Safety for all pupils should be guaranteed. It is a good idea to be impartial as a teacher, but not necessarily neutral, reflection is, of course, needed on positionality. Additionally, van Alstein advised not to start discussing the most controversial topics first. Start with a more safe and so called colder topic. When students feel more comfortable discussing, one can move on to hotter topics. Actively facilitate the discussion, it might be polarising otherwise. 

Conclusion

At the opening of EuroClio’s 27th Annual Conference, Maarten van Alstein argued that conflict is inevitable. Teaching students this notion can help facilitate dialogue and prevent polarisation. Van Alstein provided three suggestions for pedagogical practices when dealing with controversy in the classroom. First, tailor your approach in function of what is happening in the classroom. Second, defuse harmful forms of polarisation, but keep the space as open as possible. And finally, a good conversation often starts with a good question. 

Would you like to read more about Maarten Van Alstein’s work on Controversy & Polarisation in the classroom? You can find the full publication here

Statement on the murder of Samuel Paty

Press or other inquiries

Download our statement as a PDF.

For contact with EuroClio Secretariat and Executive Director Steven Stegers, please call Communications Officer Andreas Holtberget +31 6 30911384.

For contact with the Association des Professeurs d’Histoire et de Géographie in France, please contact EuroClio Board Member Ann-Laure Lieval +33 6 86 40 13 05.

For contact with the Network of Concerned Historians, please contact Prof. Antoon de Baets in writing at a.h.m.de.baets@rug.nl


Background

Summary produced by Prof Antoon de Baets of the Network of Concerned Historians:

On 16 October 2020, Samuel Paty ([1973]–2020), a history and geography teacher, was attacked with a knife and beheaded near his school in Conflans-Sainte-Honorine, near Paris. Witnesses heard attacker Abdoulakh Anzorov, an 18-year-old man of Chechen origin, shout “Allahu Akbar,” or “God is Greatest.” Anzorov then posted a picture of the beheaded Paty to a Twitter account, along with insults to President Emmanuel Macron and French “infidels” and “dogs.” He later fired at police with an airgun before being shot dead in Eragny-sur-Oise, being hit nine times in all. On 6 October 2020, Paty had taught a class of Enseignement morale et civique (EMS; moral and civic education) about freedom of expression to the fourth year (13- and 14-year-olds) and shown the controversial cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad while talking about Charlie Hebdo (the satirical magazine that had republished the cartoons in 2015 and suffered a deadly attack for it). He had advised Muslim students to look away or leave the room if they thought they might be offended. The class caused an uproar among some Muslim parents with a few posting videos asking for Paty’s resignation and one lodging a formal complaint. Paty had also received a number of unspecified threats in the days following the class. At least fifteen people were detained for interrogation, including four school students (who may have helped identify Paty to Anzorov in exchange for payment), relatives of the attacker, parents of a child at Paty’s school and radical Islamist preacher Abdelhakim Sefrioui (who was accused of having issued a “fatwa” against Paty). President Macron called the beheading an “Islamist terrorist attack.” In the National Assembly, deputies stood up to honor the teacher and condemn the “atrocious terror attack.” On 18 October 2020, rallies with tens of thousands of people were held in Paris and several other cities in support of Paty. In the wake of the murder, police raided the homes of dozens of suspected Islamic radicals and Muslim associations, including the Collectif contre l’Islamophobie en France (CCIF; Collective Against Islamophobia) and BarakaCity. Some of those questioned had reportedly posted messages of support for Anzorov.

Notes:

Jean-Michel Décugis, Jérémie Pham-Lê & Ronan Folgoas, “Yvelines-Val-d’Oise: un professeur retrouvé décapité, un suspect abattu,” LeParisien (16 October 2020); Elise Vincent & Nicolas Chapuis, “Attentat de Conflans: neuf personnes en garde à vue, dont des parents d’élèves et des proches du meurtrier,” Le Monde (17 October 2020); “Macron Calls Paris Beheading ‘Islamist Terrorist Attack’,” BBC News (17 October 2020); “France Teacher Attack: Suspect ‘Asked Pupils to Point Samuel Paty Out’,” BBC News (17 October 2020); Kim Willsher, “Macron Speaks of ‘Existential’ Fight against Terrorism after Teacher Killed in France,” Guardian (17 October 2020); Kim Willsher, “Teacher decapitated in Paris named as Samuel Paty, 47,” Guardian (17 October 2020); Gert van Langendonck, “‘Er is een Frankrijk voor en een na de onthoofding’,” NRC Handelsblad (18 October 2020); “France Teacher Attack: Police Raid Homes of Suspected Islamic Radicals,” BBC News (19 October 2020); “France Teacher Attack: Four Pupils Held over Beheading,” BBC News (20 October 2020); Lucy Williamson, Samuel Paty: Beheading of Teacher Deepens Divisions over France’s Secular Identity,” BBC News (20 October 2020).

EuroClio’s response to the Consultation on Digital for Cultural Heritage

Lorraine Besnier Association

Workshop during the 2019 Summer School in Osijek.

 

Over the summer, the European Commission launched a public consultation regarding the evaluation, and possibly the revision of the recommendations of 27 October 2011 on the digitisation and online accessibility of cultural material and digital preservation aimed to support the digital transformation of the cultural heritage sector.

Individuals, academics, cultural heritage institutions, network organisations, Member State competent authorities with experience in the sector were encouraged to fill in a questionnaire to help the commission ensure that these recommendations still fit the needs and challenges of the cultural heritage sector in light of the extreme and ongoing changes of the current situation, and of the technological changes.

In addition to the questionnaire, the consultation offered a possibility to add a supporting document to the answers. EuroClio took this opportunity to underline the importance of the Europeana platform as an enabler for cooperation on digital heritage on European and global level.  

EuroClio recommended that the Cultural Sector, supported by the European Commission:

 

  • Recognises and emphasises the value of digitised heritage in education
  • Revives the ambition to give access to all public domain materials on Europeana
  • Promotes the use of licenses that allow educational use
  • Helps users find and use materials more easily
  • Ensures diversity and inclusion in the collections
  • Acknowledges and addresses the need for curation of the Europeana Collections
  • Creates an overview of the content that is already available

 

You can read EuroClio’s position paper on the Consultation on Digital for Cultural Heritage here.

EuroClio’s Position on the Digital Education Action Plan 2020 of the European Commission

Lorraine Besnier Association

Nique Sanders (Webtic) is leading a user testing session with history educators from EuroClio (London, April 2014)

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the related challenges for the sector of Education in general, the European Commission proposed a revision of the Digital Education Action Plan of 2018.  This revision was based on a public consultation to gather the views of citizens, institutions and organisations on their experiences and expectations during the COVID-19 crisis (both to date and during the recovery period), as well as their visions for the future of digital education in Europe. 

This new action plan is meant to support Member States, education and training institutions and citizens in their efforts to adapt to the digital transition and help ensure a fair and inclusive recovery for all.

EuroClio answered the call for expertise and contributed to the online consultation. In addition to filling the questionnaire, EuroClio also wrote a position paper to further its recommendations to the European Commission. In particular, EuroClio supported some of the existing priorities such as; making better use of digital technology for teaching and learning; developing relevant digital competences and skills for the digital transformation and improving education through better data analysis and foresight. 

However, EuroClio raised the issue that those ways forward will not be sufficient to achieve the goals that the European Commission set for the new action plan. As such, EuroClio emphasised a few other important point of actions such as the need for:

 

  • The development or improvement of easy to use tools that educators can use to create, share and adapt their own open education learning resource.  
  • The development of high quality open education.
  • Research to identify and share strategies for the use of effective digital technologies for teaching and learning, especially in the humanities. 

You can read EuroClio’s Position on the Digital Education Action Plan here.

Join EuroClio’s General Assembly 2020

EuroClio Association, EUROCLIO

Hello everyone!

On behalf of the EuroClio Board, we would like to invite you all to join EuroClio's General Assembly (GA)! It is open to all of our members and is meant to democratically discuss how the Association is doing.

As you know, the General Assembly was set to take place in Belgrade, Serbia, embedded in our 27th Annual Conference. Unfortunately, due to health and safety regulations implemented throughout Europe to face the spread of covid-19, we decided to postpone the Annual Conference to the Fall.

We decided, however, to hold the General Assembly when it was originally planned, on 04 April 2020 from 16:00 to 18:00. The General Assembly will be held online.

Why attend the General Assembly?

One of the most important events in the annual calendar of EuroClio is the General Assembly, as it allows our members to discuss the Association's results of the year, the budget for the coming year, and plans for the future.

In addition, this year, the GA will elect a new board member, re-elect two audit committee members, and vote on a new application for full membership. While only the full members can vote on those decisions, every member (individual, associated or full) can attend the GA!

The General Assembly 2020 will take approximately two and a half hours. You can access all the documents regarding the General Assembly here.

How to attend the online GA?

EuroClio will be using the platform zoom.us to host its GA. Zoom is a video conferencing platform that you can access from your computer.

To join the meeting, you will need to register at this link: (https://zoom.us/meeting/register/u5Mtd-mrqDsieVDe-QQ4hzl-ZIH4NuI0ew). On 04 April, you will just need to click on the link in your internet browser, register via google or facebook, and you will join us in the online meeting room. We would invite you to join at 15:45, so that we are ready to start at 16:00.

We hope to see many of you online!!

 

Announcement on COVID-19: Annual Conference POSTPONED to 10-14 November

Andreas Holtberget Association, EUROCLIO

UPDATE 23-03-20 New Conference Dates Announcement: 10-14 November

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The EuroClio Annual Conference for 2020 was originally planned for 31 March - 4 April 2020. On 11 March 2020, the Serbian government issued a ban on all meetings with more than 100 participants throughout April, and several European countries have since been placed in lockdown as a result of the pandemic.

As a result, the Conference was postponed to Fall 2020 and we are now pleased to announce the new dates as 10-14 November 2020. We aim to offer the same programme sessions whenever we can.

The postponed conference will take place in Belgrade, Serbia, as originally planned.

Please consult the event page for updates on the programme and Conference registrations.

Call for Member Associations to co-host the EuroClio Annual Conference 2021

Katria Tomko Association, EUROCLIO

Are you and your EuroClio Member Association interested in hosting the next EuroClio Annual Conference? Do you believe you have the perfect location and theme for our 28th Annual Conference of 2021?

Then, we are looking for you!

We are glad to announce that we are opening a call for Member Associations to host the Annual Conference 2021.

Who can apply?

Every EuroClio Member Association who has participated in the General Assembly, EuroClio projects, or EuroClio trainings in the past five years.

How to apply?

To apply, please send a draft budget, draft programme, and letter of motivation to Alice Modena at secretariat@euroclio.eu.

  • The draft budget should indicate prices for accommodation, meals, and the cultural programme and should not exceed 70 euro costs per person per day when taking into consideration 100, 150, and 200 participants.
  • The draft programme should indicate the proposed theme, keynote, cultural programme, evening programme, school visits, and topic for an additional session. Below, you can see more details on the programme requirements.
  • The letter of motivation should indicate why your Member Association would like to host the Annual Conference 2021, what kind of experience you already have and would like to gain, and how you would like to promote the conference in your country and abroad.

The deadline for applications is Sunday 1 March 2020.

Selection Criteria

The selection will be based on: completeness of the application, relevance of the theme to the overall mission of EuroClio, appeal to the international community of history and citizenship educators, financial feasibility, ease of access to the conference location, and geographic balance (relative to recent Annual Conferences).

Selection process

We will shortlist three potential locations and reach out to the finalists with follow-up questions. The final decision will be made by 22 March, so that we can announce the location of the Annual Conference 2021 at the upcoming General Assembly.

Programme Requirements

The theme. The Annual Conference you are proposing should have an inspiring theme, which speaks to history and citizenship educators from across Europe and beyond and is related to what your conference location has to offer. Examples of themes from the past few years:

  • Controversy and Disagreement in the Classroom (2020, Belgrade, Serbia);
  • Bringing History to Life (2019, Gdansk, Poland);
  • Mediterranean Dialogues (2018, Marseille, France);
  • Intersections (2017, San Sebastian, Spain);
  • Reimagining Remembrance (2016, Belfast, Northern Ireland).

Programme content. Every session of the programme should be connected to the theme.

The final programme will be set by EuroClio as it must meet existing commitments and support our strategic plan. However, we want you as a local partner to also have a strong say. For this reason, in the application we ask you to advance a proposal for:

  • A topic for a Keynote Lecture to set the tone of the Annual Conference
  • An interesting cultural programme (including three different on-site learning options)
  • An interesting optional programme for early arrivals
  • An evening programme for one evening
  • A topic for a panel discussion / world café / discussion tables (of your choice)

As a host, you are expected to help arrange school visits.

The Annual Conference will also include active workshops, both from participants and from speakers invited by EuroClio, and other sessions still to be determined.

Budget Requirements

In order for EuroClio to be able to organize the Annual Conference, the hard cost can be maximum 70 euro per day per person. The difference between this and the conference fees is needed to offer discounts to members and workshop hosts and to cover the costs of the board and secretariat.

The hard costs consist of:

  • Meeting rooms
  • Dinner, including a final festive dinner
  • Lunch
  • Coffee Break
  • Cultural programme Including transport
  • Costs of speakers.

Please provide a scenario for 100, 150, and 200 persons. If it is not possible to keep the costs within these limits, it is necessary that you include a plan to acquire additional funding in the application. In such a case, please indicate the donor, the deadline to apply for the funding, who should apply, and indicative amount.

From Tribunal to Classroom

First round of trainings with UN Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals completed

The UN International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals (IRMCT) has partnered with EuroClio in delivering training to history teachers in Serbia, Montenegro, Bosnia-Hercegovina, North Macedonia and Kosovo.

With the prosecution work of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) nearly completed, its successor body IRMCT, has turned its attention to the ways in which the Tribunal’s legacy can be used in educational settings. The partnership with EuroClio targets educational professionals who are faced with the challenges of teaching students about the recent violent history of the former Yugoslavia.

Facilitated by expert teacher trainers from the History Teachers’ Associations of Montenegro, North Macedonia, Kosovo and Serbia, along with individual teacher trainers from Bosnia-Hercegovina, the first round of trainings was completed in Pristina 1 February 2020. Previous editions of the workshop were held in Belgrade, Podgorica, Sarajevo and Skopje, with a second round commencing in Podgorica 22-23 February 2020.

A session introducing the archives of the Tribunal will also be held in connection with EuroClio’s Annual Conference in Belgrade.

As part of the training workshop, local history teachers are not only introduced to the archives of the ICTY, but also given guidance on how these sources can be used in their classrooms. Aided by the local teacher trainers, they are furthermore offered the opportunity to design their own learning materials with the available sources.

EuroClio is proud to work with the IRMCT in this important work, showing how the sources available from the transitional justice process can be used in a responsible way, instilling students with the critical thinking skills needed for tackling a recent and difficult past still very much felt in contemporary society across the former Yugoslavia.

We direct a particular mention and thanks to the facilitators Natasha Kostic, Emina Zivkovic, Igor Radulovic, Milos Vukanovic, Mire Mladenovski, Donika Xhemajli, Admir Ibricic, and Arna Daguda-Torlakovic, as well as Rada Pejic-Sremac and Anisa Suceska-Vekic from IRMCT.

 

For more information on the project or potential collaborations with EuroClio, please contact Andreas Holtberget at secretariat@euroclio.eu.