IAIE Success for EuroClio

Sinéad Fitzsimons Association, EUROCLIO

In November 2019, EuroClio took an exciting new step in the world of educational research in chairing one of the research strands at the International Association for Intercultural Education’s (IAIE) annual conference in Amsterdam. The theme of the conference was “Another Brick in the Wall: Transforming Education” and focused on sharing insights pertaining to diversity in relation to the fields of Intercultural Education, Multicultural Education, Human Rights Education, Citizenship Education, Education Democracy and Global Education. The five day conference began with three days of practical workshops for practitioners followed by two days of academic research presentations and keynote speeches. In this way, the workshop had two motives – to share best practice and to share leading research (and of course, how those two overlap). Although participants did not need to attend all five days, some did which led to a unique opportunity for academics and practitioners to reflect and learn together.

EuroClio’s central role was to chair one of the research strands during the final two days of the conference. EuroClio’s Director Steven Stegers and I have the privilege to lead this and we both thoroughly enjoyed the experience. The strand, which was one of eight thematic strands included in the conference, focused on ‘Multiperspectivity in History Teaching.’ Presentations within the strand covered a wide range of research topics such as multiperspectivity when teaching the Holocaust, history education in the context of global migration, digital tools to promote multiperspectivity, how to respect refugee identities through history education and several national case studies considering the challenges and opportunities for history education within and across borders. To see all the presentation topics and the associated presenters, please click here. Full details on the conference and details about all strands can be found here.

There were many special elements about this conference, but I’ve narrowed it down to my top 6 reasons why this was a great experience.

  1. EuroClio being an active contributor to the field of academic research.

Although EuroClio has been involved in several research projects in the past and has produced and contributed to many significant research reports, EuroClio as an association has never served as a co-organiser or strand leader at an international multidisciplinary academic conference. Of course, EuroClio and the EuroClio network is not new to academic research. Many of EuroClio’s members, ambassadors, board members, trainers, trainees and staff have experience conducting academic research and have made great contributions to the field of history and citizenship education.  Undoubtedly, it was the work of these individuals that has enabled EuroClio as an association to become an increasingly active presence in the field of academic research. We hope that this presence will only grow in the future!

  1. High calibre research and researchers.

The second reason why this experience was so exciting for EuroClio was because it was such a great quality conference! Participants included many high calibre academics from leading university and think tanks who have completed interesting and thought provoking research. For example, one of the keynote speakers was Jim Cummins, Professor Emeritus at the University of Toronto and a world leader on effective multilingual teaching to promote inclusivity and cohesion. Another keynote speaker was Dr. Maurice Crul from the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam and the Erasmus University Rotterdam who is one of the global leaders on research into the experience of children of migrants. He also serves as the international chair of IMISCOE (International Migration, Integration and Social Cohesion) network. These are just two examples of a long list of internationally renowned academics who were present.

  1. Strong EuroClio representation.

Among the high calibre presenters and workshop leaders were some very impressive members of the EuroClio community. Ute Ackermann Boeros led a workshop on teaching multi-perspectivity through the International Baccalaureate. Steven Stegers presented on the key themes and oversights of multiperspectivity. Gijs Martijn van Gaans presented on research he has conducted on multiperspectivity and collective historical narratives. Dr. Bjorn Wansink presented his recent work on multiperspectivity and Holocaust education. Mare Oja presented on how multiperspectivity is incorporated into History Education in Estonia. Lexi Oudman and Maayke de Vries co-presented on approaches to teaching sensitive history in international school contexts. Finally, I presented the first phase of a research project on the effectiveness of EuroClio’s recent crowdsourcing method for resource development. The wonderful Joke van der Leeuw-Roord also attended the conference and initiated many thought provoking and stimulating discussions. In short, EuroClio had a strong representation throughout the conference and really did the association proud.

  1. Broadening of the EuroClio network.

Based on number 3 above, it is clear that EuroClio went into the conference with a strong network, but this network had strengthened even more by the end of the conference.  Many more people learned about the work that EuroClio does and the potential ways that they can get involved in the future. In addition, the team made many connections to scholars and field leaders in disciplines beyond History Education. These individuals offer diverse experiences, skills and findings that could further improve EuroClio’s work. In addition, making connections with participants from Greece, Italy, Israel, Norway, the Netherlands, Sweden, Iceland, Slovakia, Hungary, Czech Republic, the Ukraine, China, Germany, the UK and the United States means that EuroClio’s international network continues to strengthen around the world.

  1. The DENISE school.

The location of the conference is the 5th reason why this was such a special experience. The conference was held in Amsterdam at De Nieuwe Internationale School van Esprit (DENISE). DENISE is an international school that offers five different learning programmes so every student can learn in a way that serves their own needs and personal choices. For example, it offers English-medium teaching, Dutch-medium teaching, an English-Dutch Dual Language programme, the International Baccalaureate, the Dutch curricula (including MAVO and HAVO) and other merged programmes. The students of DENISE come from different backgrounds, speak different languages and have had very different life experiences. Some students are Dutch nationals whereas others arrived to the Netherlands as refugees. However, what is perhaps the most surprising aspect of DENISE is that it is an international public school which means that students do not need to pay fees. This is rare for this level of quality international education. Students are also taught explicitly about intercultural competence which illustrates the inclusive values of the school. Throughout the conference, students kindly volunteered their time and assisted with many of the housekeeping duties and providing assistance to participants. You could see the pride that these students had in their school and how proud they were to be showcasing it through the conference. It really added to the atmosphere of the conference and was a great reminder of what education research should always be working towards – supporting a quality teaching and learning experience for all students.

  1. Developing a partnership with IAIE for the future.

The final point on this list does not represent the end of the list. In truth, the possibility to continue this partnership with the IAIE in the future represents a continuation of this list. Barry van Driel, President of the IAIE is keen to continue the partnership to the next IAIE conference which will be held in the autumn of 2020 in Greece. Through this conference we hope to further share and celebrate the work of EuroClio and to further broaden the EuroClio network.

After explaining those 6 reasons for why the conference was so great, there is only one thing left to say – who will be joining us at IAIE 2020?

 

Dr. Sinéad Fitzsimons is a former Board Member and current Ambassador of EuroClio. With Cambridge Assessment, she works on several projects connected to curriculum development, international curriculum, curriculum mapping and qualitative research methods in education.

The case for teaching the history of the European Integration

Veronika Budaiová Association

The EUROCLIO thematic seminar on ‘Teaching European Integration” held at the House of European History on 22-24 November 2019 was opened by a keynote lecture from Liesbeth van de Grift*, Associate Professor History of International Relations at Utrecht University. She focused on the theme ‘The case for teaching the history of European integration’, and in particular on the guiding question:

  • Why is it important to teach the history of European integration?
  • What are potential challenges and obstacles when teaching the history of European integration?
  • What are possible ways forward?

During the interactive lecture, some teachers that were participating to the seminar underlined that they find it hard to include European Integration into the curricula, whereas some teachers said that they already teach about it. Liesbeth pointed out that one of the best ways to bring European Integration to the classroom is to show the impact of the European Union on our daily lives. Nowadays, every aspect of everyday life is subject to regulations, many of which were created by the EU to guarantee a common standard in all Member States.

For example, you wake up and brush your teeth with water that comes from pipes, and you know the water is not harmful to you because of EU regulations. Then, you might want to eat an apple, or a mandarin, and you can be reasonably sure that it was not subject to more pesticides than the limit set by the EU, and so on.

Furthermore, she continued, in all Member States people have a varying knowledge of the EU and its history. The role of teachers is especially important in this circumstances. It is only by learning about the history of European Integration, its relevance, and the functioning of the Union, that children will be able to form an opinion on their future.

 

The main question, thus, becomes “What do teachers perceive as important information to know about, when talking of the EU integration?”. This question has many different responses. The traditional one would be “high politics” (treaties, summits, or resolutions), focusing more on material interests than ideals. Other answers can be looking at the impact of the EU on everyday life, as Liesbeth explained in her introduction, or by showing successes and failures of the EU on the International Stage, as Helen Snelson suggested in another session of the teaching seminar.

 

The last part of the lecture was dedicated to the discussion of materials which participants are using in their classrooms or what they plan to use. Some participants said that they did not use particular material at the moment, but that they realized the importance of showing the influence of EU on everyday life. Some teachers, on the other hand, teach about EU integration when discussing the nature of democracy, while some others do simulations of elections to the European Parliament in their classrooms for the same purpose.

The main conclusion of the lecture was that teaching about European Integration is a multi-faceted, and not easy, task. There are a variety of approaches and instruments that can be used in doing so. Throughout the thematic seminar, participants got to know some of them.

 

Read more about the seminar in this article.

 

*Liesbeth van de Grift, Associate Professor History of International Relations at Utrecht University, specializes in the history of political representation in Europe. She leads a research project on the role of societal actors, such as consumer groups and environmental organisations, in the history of European integration. She is one of the authors of the textbook on European integration history The Unfinished History of European Integration (Amsterdam University Press, 2018) written for bachelor’s and master’s students.

 

Teaching European Integration. How and Why? – memories from an inspiring training

Veronika Budaiová Association

The thematic seminar on “Teaching European Integration. How and Why?” took place from 22 to 24 November 2019 at the House of European History in Brussels, Belgium. It was organised by EUROCLIO in collaboration with the House of European History with the aim of introducing new methods to teach about European Integration.

The programme was built around active workshops where new materials were introduced and participants had a chance to exchange their experiences.

The seminar started with words of welcome from EUROCLIO Executive Director Steven Stegers, from the Head of the House of European History Constanze Itzel, and the Head of the Learning and Outreach Department at the House of European History Ewa Goodman. Then, the programme continued with a keynote lecture by Liesbeth van de Grift making the case for teaching European Integration. The lecture focused on the strategies that participants to the seminar already use when it comes to Teaching European integration. Then, participants dived right into the first possible teaching method: a visit to the permanent exhibition of the House of European History, using the activity sheet for schools. This was followed by a walking tour of the European neighborhood.

The second day of the seminar consisted of a series of active workshops. Helen Snelson, member of the Historiana Teaching and Learning Team, hosted two workshops with materials taken from Historiana.eu. First, she introduced several strategies and activities of teaching EU history. In particular, she put the EU in its broader historical context, showing participants how to connect it to the bigger picture of the history of the European Continent from 1648 (Westphalian Peace) to today. In doing so, Helen introduced also a series of concepts that related to conflict management, and that students might find hard to approach. The activity she used is available at this link. Going further in detail, she tackled the question ‘What makes it possible for Europe to work together and operate as a global power and what are the criteria?’, where she presented examples of successful and unsuccessful cooperation between EU countries, in an effort of establishing what are the features of successful cooperation and global power.

Laurence Bragard introduced the different activities developed by the House of European History. She focused on an activity about the Elections of the European Parliament, in which students analyze the 1979 campaign for the first elections of the EP, comparing it with posters and social media campaign from 2019. This inspiring activity, in which students are gradually introduced to the concept of representative democracy within the EU, is available for free on the website of the House of European History.

Finally, participants had a sneak preview of the toolkit on “how can we best deal with migration?”, developed as part of the VPRO-led project “In Europe at School”. This toolkit makes use of clips from the TV series “In Europe Now” to teach about migration movements in Europe, and to promote critical thinking in students. At the end of the activities of the toolkit, students make their own mini-documentary on the topic of migration. The material was received well by all participants, who suggested new ways of using and improving the toolkit and expressed their interest in the results of the project.

The last day of training kicked off at European Parlamentarium, where participants tried Role-Play Game designed for high school students. There, they had a chance to become Members of the European Parliament and negotiate two (mock) directives. It was an interesting activity, which ask everyone to exit from their comfort zone and take part in debates, journalists’ interviews, lobby missions, and working group meetings.

Finally, Laurence moderated a workshop on identity, and on how people construct their identity. This is a rather sensitive concept, difficult for students of primary or secondary schools to grasp. The activity developed by the House of European History presents a series of step-by-step exercises that guide teachers and students in exploring their own identity(ies), how are identities constructed, and how are identities used to build narratives of inclusion/exclusion.

All in all, the seminar was a successful and inspiring training, where participants from all across Europe got to know about new instruments to teach about the European Integration, and shared their own experiences, challenges, and solutions to a problem, how to interest pupils in EU integration and high politics, that was shared by them all.

We would like to thank all the people that participated to the seminar, as well as the speakers: Laurence Bragard, Helen Snelson, Daniel Bernsen. A great thanks goes to the House of European History and all its staff for co-organizing the seminar and giving us the opportunity of visiting their inspiring permanent and temporary exhibitions.

What happened in wartime, stays in the archive?

Jonathan Even-Zohar Association, EUROCLIO

New national pilot in The Netherlands explores the digitisation of the judicial archive of the post-war persecution of collaborators.

On Friday 13th September over 100 Dutch archivists, historians and other researchers gathered in Amsterdam at the Trippenhuis, seat of the Royal Academy of Science for a very interesting conference “Connect the Dots”. EUROCLIO asked me to attend as an Ambassador, in particular to see which relevance the content may have for education. Well, in short, not much. Not yet, at least. I did however take plenty of notes and am happy to share these with you if you have a further interest. In this report I’ll illustrate some of the fundamental issues which were presented and debated during a very interesting day.

What is it all about?

The TRIADO project essentially seeks to make one very specific archive more accessible. The Centraal Archief Bijzondere Rechtspleging is the archive of the post-war legal instrument employed to persecute Dutch collaborators and war criminals who supported the Nazi occupation, volunteered in the Nazi war machine, ‘hunted’ the Jews and cracked down on the anti-occupation resistance. This archive of over 14 kilometers of jurisprudence and legal documentation is available at the National Archives, but only by researchers and historians who apply and obtain special approval to see them. In 2025 this legal restriction will expire.

  • Short series of interviews about the project can be viewed here (Dutch)
  • Detailed technical implementation report here (English)

Essentially, the TRIADO project, is a pilot to see what possibilities exist to digitise this special archive and make it more accessible. Big questions arise from this opportunity:

  • Should a digital archive which is that sensitive be available online?
  • What about privacy and information of individuals?
  • How can members of the public, if they are given more access, be supported in responsibly interpreting this archive?

Generally, the meeting was illustrative on a wide variety of challenges and opportunities of The Netherlands Dealing with the Past of collaboration and persecution in the process of the digitisation and the opening up of the special Tribunal archives.

What were some of the interesting issues?

A National 5-Year Documentary

To mark and document this process, the Dutch National Broascaster NOS has dedicated reporter Mr Lex Runderkamp, to follow the developments of this process between 2020 and 2025. As a war correspondent, most recently in Syria, he had always asked himself if he had done enough to raise awareness in the world on the importance of not looking away from crimes against humanity and genocide. A notion he illustrated with the post-war expression in the Netherlands “we did not know”. I found it quite special that the Dutch broadcaster has engaged in a project of five years to see where this will lead to. In particular in 2019-2020, we can see a lot of special attention given to the 75 years anniversary of the end of World War Two. This project puts a focus on war crime, strife and collaboration which is otherwise missing in the public eye.

Fear of the Data

Researchers during this day expressed a general excitement that this archive would be become searchable digitally on full-text level, and were somewhat taken by the presented prototypes which also stimulate them to ask new questions about the nature of collaboration in The Netherlands, for example about average age, types of families, environmental factors, and much more. But eminent sociologist Abram De Swaan expressed his concerns regarding the promise of Big Data in historical and sociological research. One example which he gave was that even if we would have all the wartime diaries digitised, the essential controversy about the big questions (did the citizens know of the Nazi regime horrors? Did they willingly participate, or could they have done more to resist, etc.), would have still been the same. He also pointed to various forms of bias in the sources which are obtained in the process of a trial, where actors act out of social desirability.

Privacy, Memory and History

The current archive is said to be the most consulted physical archive in the country. Ancestors are looking for very personal answers. Who betrayed my grandmother? What crimes was my uncle responsible for? Because of this, the archive carries large emotional loads. During the conference matters around anonymity came up a lot. At the same time a creeping desire to ‘get over it’ and ensure youth today are able to learn from this collection and part of history emerged. It seems to me that this archive tiptoes along the thin line that divides memory and history. Enabling full-text access to his, at the same time, including the opportunities for linked data, was recognised during the conversations as a big risk. One can only imagine a linked open data sort of ‘collaboration heat map’, or worse.

Digital humanities, Design and Diction

The project is coordinated by a network organisation called Netwerk Oorlogsbronnen, which in itself seeks to connect the worlds of research, heritage and technology. A particular presentation about the technical development of this pilot by the Director of the Royal Academy of Science Humanities cluster showed in great details the levels normally not considered by users of technological innovations. It was also very interesting to hear the important European and international infrastructures in digital humanities (such as Clariah, Clarin, Dariah, Cessda, Time Machine, Europeana, Dbpedia and more),on which such a pilot can flourish. It amazed me how much of our language in such projects has become tuned to technological design and development tongue, and can only hope researchers benefit from such projects and the cross-disciplinary learning it offers.

So?

Ultimately, this day took existing questions into a new arena. Researchers affirmed that critical source analysis is important, especially with such a sensitive and somewhat chaotic and technical archive as the War Tribunals one. The desire to provide better service to the "history-hungry” public is worth-while, but each steps should be considered very carefully. The issue of privacy kept coming back. The digital age and the long life of content online presents a special risk in the context of living memories of war which spark emotions of sadness and shame. I will seek to keep following this process over the coming years as well, and one particular issue remained open: what about education?

Jonathan Even Zohar-Zohar (Evenzo Consultancy) is the former Executive Director of EUROCLIO. He continues to represent EUROCLIO as an Ambassador. 

Photo credits: Zoeken door CABR-dossiers | Fotoalbum 'Centraal Archievendepot Justitie' | Archief Ministerie van Justitie

Introducing our New Executive Director – How to make EUROCLIO future proof? 

Agustin De Julio Association, EUROCLIO

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 secretariat@euroclio.eu!

Jilt Jorritsma

General Assembly 2019: new board composition and new members

Agustin De Julio Association, EUROCLIO

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.

How can we truly bring history to life? Reflections and takeaways from the Annual Conference 2019



Some of the ideas developed during the discussion tables

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:

  • Movies
  • Board Games
  • Comics
  • Theatre plays
  • Video Games

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.



EUROCLIO’s 26th Annual Conference: Introducing New Perspectives and Encouraging Powerful Exchange

The 26th 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.

During the 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 their classroom.

The closing 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 tools.

Finally, 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 World War.

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!

“The Warsaw Uprising”: a critical movie screening

As part of the optional conference programme, participants had the possibility to take part to the critical movie screening of “The Warsaw Uprising”. The movie, introduced by Dr. Karol Mazur, Head of the Educational Department of the Warsaw Uprising Museum, sparked an interesting debate on the use of original footage in the classroom.

“The Warsaw Uprising” is the world’s first non-fiction movie on the Warsaw Uprising” – Dr. Karol Mazur

The movie was created following an initiative from the Warsaw Uprising Museum, which aims at drawing youngsters’ attention using so-called “pop-culture”. It consists of two layers:

  1. Original footage, colorized and selected by a team of 14 professionals;
  2. A fictional screenplay, based on primary sources such as diaries or letters.

“It is astonishing how much film material is there”

The screenplay follows two brothers, cameramen of the Bureau of Information and Propaganda of the Polish Underground Army Headquarters (BIP), who are sent to witness the uprising and the fighting. It uses authentic footage, sometimes with added sound, including original conversations reconstructed based on lip reading.

Would you use the movie in your classroom practice?

The purpose of the movie screening was to address the theme of “Bringing History to Life” from the very beginning of the conference. Steven Stegers, moderating the Q&A session after the screening, opened the discussion by posing the following question to participants: Would you use “The Warsaw Uprising” in your classroom practice?

The answers to the question were naturally mixed. Some participants argued that screening the movie would offer a very particular ability to depict everyday reality during the uprising. However, others argued that raw, unedited footage offers a more unbiased, realistic view of the events. Someone mentioned that he would screen the documentary in a classroom, accompanied by the question of why students think such a documentary would be developed and screened in 2019, evoking a discussion about rising nationalism.

“It really showed the chaos that a civilian felt”

It is safe to argue that this critical movie screening fulfilled its purpose: participants entered into discussions about what kind of methods are out there to bring history to life in the classroom, and what methods should be reconsidered. Although the screening was attended by a small group of early arrivals, it sparked debate, and therefore left an impression, throughout the conference.

Reflecting World War One Remembrance: lessons learnt

EUROCLIO Association

By Jonathan Even-Zohar, originally published on the House of European History website 

On 27th November 2018 the House of European History organised a debate around the significance, relevance and impact of the centenary of the First World War. The museum invited speakers representing different fields of public history and remembrance who were actively engaged with the centenary.

This event offered an open and rich reflection on the achievements and challenges that have been seen during the WWI centenary in 2014-2018. More broadly, it helped thinking processes at work around those key moments and themes which in effect mobilise people and organisations working with history. The discussion was an incentive to assess how to best provide institutional frameworks which connect Europeans, support research as well as public engagement and create civic space to balance national, and European, remembrance agendas, through initiatives such as the European Remembranceprogramme run by the European Commission, or the House of European History, a project under the auspices of the European Parliament.

John Horne, historian at University of Dublin, discussed the relationship between memory and history, and how that memory event (term coined by Jay Winter) can be analysed in his perspective.

Chantal Kesteloot, a public historian at Cegesoma, discussed the role of public authority and society-at-large in investing, or in fact yearning for remembrance. Virginia Crompton, a journalist-turned-cultural entrepreneur at Big Ideas, shared some of the inclusive community engagement efforts she has led in making an otherwise abstract centenary more meaningful to citizens and children. Kieran Burns, curator at the House of European History, elaborated on the museum’s exhibit on the First World War, which tells a transnational story that contributes to the search for a European narrative.

This brief report highlights a number of significant themes and insights the speakers and participants shared during the discussion I moderated.
 

Centenary supports new historical research

In Belgium, but this may hold valid across Europe, the centenary helped shift further research focus from WWII to WWI, and stimulated new approaches to WWI history. For example, looking at war aftermaths, or reconsidering a too deterministic approach to the 1920s. Structurally, more financial means were offered to a new generation of young researchers. Yet there is also a sense of missed opportunities to go deeper into entangled, global and difficult histories relating to colonial dimensions. The debate on whether WWI is to be seen as a “European” war, which sucked the world into it though the linkages of European Empires, has been developed and surely will continue as historians seek more and more to illustrate global interdependencies and structures. On the other hand, however, cultural, social and personal histories have found their way to the forefront of popular research, in particular though the lens of marginalised groups, such as the labour corps in the Big Ideas project The Unremembered, forming valuable connections between history and memory. Still more perspectives are to be appreciated, for example for the impact of the war on the Ottoman Empire and the wider region, or the rise of fascism itself. Or the colonial experiences and the history (and memory) of disabilities of the war-wounded. In summary, it seems as though the centenary has merely scratched the surface of future research fields.
 

Supporting public participation – and is a transnational civic remembrance next?

When thinking about commemoration, the first thing that comes to mind is some kind of official parade produced with television in mind, with the laying of flowers and solemn reflective speeches by Heads of State. And yes, this happened at the current centenary as well, both on the national as well as international arenas. Yet this time around, the public stepped up to a greater extent, and took part in many activities., Europeana’s collection roadshow is a good example – in which ordinary people were invited to have their war-time items and the related stories be forever included in Europe’s digital collections. Or #playforpeace, where musicians around the world co-recorded a commemorative tribute to the armistice. Who then actually owns remembrance? Is it still a prerogative of the State to mark key moments in its lifetime, or is it becoming increasingly democratised? And if it is, is the way in which this process unfolds inclusive enough to all members of society? Innovative engagement ideas have been developed in the context of the centenary and their effects should be studied and shared more. Keep in mind that the First World War centenary was unique for it was still a commemoration with a “living touch” i.e. personal significance for living generations through their recent family history.
 

The centenary put museums in an international and local space of memory

The House of European History collection and exhibition development which happened exactly during the commemorations, benefited from the widespread interest for the topic. Local and national museums in Rovereto, Budapest, Ypres, and others, who lent objects, showed a huge interest for the transnational narrative being built by the House of European History. New museums presented local experiences, or novel museum approaches, such as the “In Flanders Fields Museum in Ypres which provided  a beautiful example of a post-national museum. This put new emphasis on the front as a multicultural space, going beyond the idea of ‘our dead’.  One debate which continues is the role of tourism and other forms of popular visits to sites. The consumerist side of remembrance may be an element which requires further discussion.
 

Laying bare current political realities

While researchers, educators and practitioners brought new civic and/or an international sense to reflecting the horrors of the WWI, it is not clear what steps were taken politically in this context. On the one hand we have seen joint commemorations as a tool of cultural diplomacy. Liberal leaders have sought to publically value the progress the Europe of today has made from the violence of the past, or even set aside the negative side of nationalism, as President Macron did in his speech in November 2018. But there are other developments as well. A Central Eastern European memory framework differs greatly from a Western European one, which seems to have dominated the overall European agenda. In fact, one might argue many centenaries are just about to take shape as countries in Central and Eastern Europe, which will be looking to commemorate their interwar independencies. Then comes the question if so much history being done in and around commemorative dates, does that signal a wider lack of political visions or ideals today?

Europe has a European Remembrance programme run by the European Commission, which in effect mobilises people and organisations working with history toward certain key moments and themes. As the outline of the future of this programme post-2020 is bound to emerge in the coming year, it may be wise to reflect on the achievements and challenges that have been seen during the WWI centenary in 2014-2018. Based on this we can assess how to best provide an institutional framework which connects Europeans, supports research as well as public engagement and creates civic space to balance national, and European, remembrance agendas.