The Evens Education Prize 2020

Katria Tomko Opportunities

For the 2020 Evens Education Prize we are looking for inspiration and new ideas to foster the motivation and abilities to think critically about social questions.

To counteract the fact that practice and research are often two worlds apart, the new Evens Education Prize, Critical Thinking as a Practice of Freedom, invites applications in two categories:

  • Embedded practices that support critical thinking about social questions
  • Scholarly but practice-oriented work that furthers our understanding of practices, pedagogies, curricula or projects that foster critical thinking, and the conditions in which education for critical thinking can thrive

The call is open to a broad variety of practices implemented in institutional and non-institutional spaces by teachers, scholars, students, educators, youth workers, artists, civil society organizations, citizen groups etc. This includes formal, non-formal and community-based education for youth as well as adults.

Selection criteria for jury deliberations

Ideally, the practice or research:

  • understands diversity in its broadest sense, emphasizing differences not only between but also within groups;
  • focuses on both the motivation and the development of intellectual dispositions and abilities to think critically and on the integration of imagination and emotional growth;
  • values the process of thinking and learning together;
  • reflects on the different and sometimes conflicting conceptions of critical thinking held by participants from diverse backgrounds;
  • takes the particularity of each context into account while at the same time working towards the sustainable development of critical thinking ability and motivation across contexts.

The Evens Foundation, aware of the ambitiousness of the criteria, invites candidates who meetsome but not (yet) all of the criteria above, especially if efforts are being made to meet more of these criteria in the future.

Formal criteria (must be fulfilled)

  • Only applicants based and operating in Europe* can participate.
  • Only ongoing or recent (initiated in the past two years) practices and research are eligible.
  • The laureates of the prize must be willing to take part in future projects of the Evens Foundation related to the focus of the prize, in particular regarding the dissemination of the winning practice or research.

If you would like to apply, please read the Call for Applications carefully, download and fill in the Application Form and send it to Marjolein Delvou by 15 March at the latest.

Learn more about the opportunity and apply via the links below. 

Bosnian War Moratorium Lifted in Sarajevo Schools

EuroClio Articles

For over two decades, Bosnian history curricula have been silent about the recent war. In 2018, however, Canton Sarajevo’s education ministry introduced the subject into classrooms for the first time, and now other cantons are following suit. The author visited Sarajevo in April 2019 to speak with various experts in the city about what this means for Bosnian history education and the memory of the war.

Introduction

The Bosnian War ended with the signing of the Dayton Peace Agreement (DPA) in 1995, which divided the country between its warring parties. Two entities, the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (FBiH) and Republika Srpska (RS), were created; FBiH was divided into 10 autonomous cantons. Since the DPA made no specific arrangements for education, there are 13 education ministries in the country today. No effective mechanism has since been created to coordinate educational policy between them.

In 2000, the Council of Europe issued a recommendation that Bosnian schools refrain from teaching about the Bosnian War “to enable historians from all communities […] to develop a common approach.” The topic has thus not been addressed in the schools of any of the cantons since 2000.

New History Units

In 2017, in response to a petition submitted by the Academy of Sciences and Arts of FBiH, a committee of experts was drawn up by the Canton Sarajevo education ministry to form a writing team. This team of local history teachers, professors, and experts on genocide and modern history worked from July 2017 – January 2018, to create 5 new history curriculum units about the war:

  1. Military-political developments of the 1992-1995 war
  2. Military-political developments of the Siege of Sarajevo
  3. Everyday life in the Siege of Sarajevo
  4. War crimes and ethnic cleansing
  5. The Srebrenica genocide

The materials were circulated to teachers in April 2018, and implemented in May of the same year. The Bosnian War is now the final topic of 20th century history to be taught in the 9th grade of primary school (osnovna škola) in Sarajevo. Local education experts, in conversation with the author, identified the following three problems they see in the new units:

  1. Lack of multi-perspectivity

The narrative the units present is largely told from the perspective of Bosniaks as victims. One expert from the OSCE Mission to BiH mentioned that the units, though aimed to address the entire war, choose mainly to focus on the Siege of Sarajevo and the Srebrenica Genocide. She argued that this perpetuates an established tendency of one-sided history teaching, which divides the actors of the war cleanly into victims on “our side” and perpetrators on “the other side.” The 4th unit, for example, teaches a list of ICTY indictments, most of which are against Serbs, to emphasize this victim-perpetrator binary.

According to a history didactics professor from the University of Sarajevo, the units retell the same old story that has always been told of the siege without adding any nuance. She argued that multi-perspectivity would be achieved if the units had, for example, discussed the Kazani crimes (murders of Bosnian Serbs committed by the Bosnian army). In the 3rd unit, the text does state that the Bosnian army also committed crimes, but stipulates that they are not to be compared to those committed by Serbs. It is important for the units, however, to avoid mitigating the crimes of either side and to recognize that suffering was experienced by all civilians, regardless of which side of the frontline they were on.

  1. Lack of teacher training

A weak curriculum can be saved by a strong teacher, but a strong curriculum is useless in the hands of a weak teacher. Local experts have thus argued that teacher training sessions and support services would be a much better use of resources than developing new curricula. Teachers are overloaded with sources to use with the new units, but most have not even been taught how to use them properly.

Furthermore, the material that the new units cover is highly personal. The teachers all experienced the war in some way, either in the siege, in exile, or otherwise, and have vivid memories that will resurface in the classroom. How are they meant to handle these emotions while teaching? How can they manage the family stories that students will share during discussions? There has been no attempt to host psychological sessions for teachers to deal with this issue. Ultimately, without more support, the teachers cannot implement the new units effectively.

  1. Politicization of the initiative

As the new units were being implemented, Canton Sarajevo entered election season. The focus of the initiative thus became to complete it in time for the election, rather than ensuring it was done well. The process was concluded, according to an expert from the OSCE, without any thought about its application in the classrooms or its effect on other parts of the country, such as reciprocal responses from Republika Srpska education officials. In addition, the history didactics professor lamented that no follow-up feedback session was organized for the teachers after implementation, so teachers had no chance to voice their concerns or suggestions for improvement.

The region generally suffers from a lack of long-term planning and commitment in education policies. Politicians have little incentive to implement policies that take time to bring results, since they will not necessarily be there to reap the rewards and receive due credit. Instead of investing in long-term goals, they prefer to apply short-term solutions to look good for the next election.

What’s next?

Following Sarajevo’s initiative, more and more cantons are introducing the war into their curriculum, but without coordination, their approach and content are bound to vary. So far, new units have been introduced in cantons Zenica-Doboj, Tuzla, and Una-Sana, and the entity of Republika Srpska. In RS, for example, it has recently been announced that new history textbooks and curricula will be developed to be more in line with Serbian programs. It will be interesting to see how the new units of other FBiH cantons will reflect varying interpretations of the war depending on their place of origin.

Meanwhile, local experts had been optimistic that a new, more progressive government had come to power in Sarajevo. However, the new Minister Zineta Bogunić resigned this July after only 7 months in office. The reason put forth by the media was that she was under pressure by the Prime Minister to pass a new law on higher education, which would introduce more governmental control over the University of Sarajevo. In any case, the new education ministry advised education experts at a recent meeting not to expect too much, since a strong shift in policy would likely be “too radical” to survive.

 

Catherine Savitsky is a Master’s student at the University of Toronto, studying European Studies. She visited Sarajevo in late April 2019 and conducted interviews with stakeholders as part of research for her Master’s thesis about the politicization of the siege’s collective memory in Sarajevo’s education system.  

Safe Schools and Spying Students

Madison Pagel Articles

On Monday 1 July 2019, EuroClio convened a meeting for experts in the field of history education to discuss the role of high-quality history education in conflict prevention and resolution. During the meeting, Eyal Naveh presented the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in history education, which centered on the inclusion of the Nakba and Holocaust in the countries’ curricula. During his informative presentation, Naveh touched upon Im Tirtzu, a right-wing, non-profit organisation in Israeli that has launched a web platform where students can report their teachers for promoting ‘anti-Israel’ views. Entitled ‘Know Your Professor’, the project asks students to report teachers who “teach at publicly funded universities yet promote BDS [Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions], encourage international pressure on Israel, accuse the IDF [Israeli Defense Forces] of war crimes, and call to refuse service in the IDF,” with the claim that such behaviour is an inappropriate use of tax-payer dollars. 

Initially, some in attendance were surprised to hear about such tactics. However, upon further discussion, the experts were able to conjure many other examples and it became readily apparent that Im Tirtzu’s actions are not unique; rather, they are part of a broader pattern of increasing calls for student to surveil their teachers. This sparked a greater conversation about the concept of ‘safe schools’ and what the term should be understood to encompass. It became clear that the safety of teachers, both professionally and physically, is an integral consideration for history education reforms. 

Teachers are the most important link between students and content, through whom textbooks, curricula, and government initiatives are filtered. Even if teachers are provided with unbiased, inclusive content, if they feel uncomfortable or unsafe teaching it, the success of history education reform can be greatly compromised. The encouragement of students to report or otherwise publicly denounce teachers who teach controversial subjects can lead to an inability of teachers to educate in a way that highlights multiple perspectives or interpretations of the past. If teachers believe their careers or reputations are vulnerable, they may choose not to teach controversial subjects or otherwise censor themselves. It can stifle debate and critical thinking skills. In short, the unsafe teacher is a choke point that threatens the success of even the most well-thought out reforms. This makes the prevalence of the surveillance all the more concerning.

Take, for instance, the Alternative for Deutschland (AfD), which called for students to report teachers for violations of neutrality laws. Here, a political party that denies or questions the extent of the Holocaust is asking for students to report teachers who question or speak ill of the party. Analogous tactics are being employed in the Netherlands, where the Forum voor Democratie (FvD) is similarly politicising the education system. Over 1,500 Dutch educators have signed an open letter against the education policies of the FvD, specifically claiming that the reporting hotline—touted by FvD as a way to reduce bias in the classroom—is simply an attempt to coerce educators into teaching the party’s brand of history. 

In addition to political parties, interest groups sometimes lead the charge: one notable example of this is the Professor Watchlist, in the United States. The site was created by Turning Point USA, a conservative non-profit organisation. While the website claims to only publish those teachers whose alleged offenses are corroborated by pre-existing news sources with credible reporting, the sources listed are often extremely partisan. Campus Reform, a self-described conservative watchdog publication, is often the sole publication cited. Professor Watchlist is a particularly alarming iteration of this dangerous practice as it publishes images of the educators, as well as their workplace, potentially threatening their physical security. This website also illustrates how easily the practice can backslide from the ostensible goal of preventing bias in the classroom to ensuring bias in the classroom through the censure of certain views and the restriction academic freedoms. 

Consider the following example. Patricia Williams made the watchlist for claiming that the history of the right to bear arms was based in racial and gender privileges. The website linked to Williams’ opinion piece, where she discusses her interpretation of this history. As proof of her bias, the website also links a report on gun ownership by the Pew Research Center, a legitimising move that attempts to align the think tank with the website’s view despite the irrelevance of the report to the article’s argument. Williams’ opinion piece does not explicitly renounce an ideology, but rather asserts a perspective. The website’s publishing of Williams and other teachers harms the promotion of multiperspectivity in classroom by disparaging their views and, as a result, attempting to harm the credibility of the educators. William’s claim uses concrete evidence to advance a point with which the website does not agree; she is not denounced for being a poor academic, but rather for being a ‘wrong’ one. While this particular website is not influential or salient in United States, a similar website in Brazil shows what can happen when the websites gain traction in the community or government.

Escola sem Partido, or Schools without Party, is a right-wing movement calling for the end to the politicisation of schools in Brazil. The movement gained popularity through government support, with President Bolsonaro endorsing the movement. Personally encouraging students to film teachers who criticise his rule or agenda, he went so far as to share a video of a teacher ‘indoctrinating’ students against his regime. Having received the consent of the ruling party, this movement can pose significant risks to the teachers and schools that are denounced by it. In part as a response to claims of partiality for the left, the Brazilian government proposed extensive budget cuts to three large publicly funded universities who were reported to have engaged in such anti-government behaviour, providing monetary disincentive to contradict the ruling party’s views, including those on history. The current situation has been satirised in a comedy video, which, although facetious, illustrates the pressure on educators, in particular history educators, in Brazil.

While most of the examples of politicians or interest groups encouraging students or providing platforms for students to report on their teachers are less severe than that of Brazil, the case illustrates the detrimental affect such an environment can have on the quality of education, and how it can threaten even the most well-thought out history education reforms. Teachers cannot employ the strategies integral to high-quality history education if they feel threatened by the state or fear professional retaliation. It is incredibly important that schools are safe for students to debate freely; it is of equal importance to recognise that teacher’s safety is key to effective reform, and decision makers would do well to remember and consider the aforementioned examples.

Written By Madison Pagel, IHJR Research trainee.

Third L2D Seminar Focuses on Teaching Strategies and Assessment

Jaco Stoop Project Updates

From 17 to 20 January, Maynooth University, opened its doors to the core team of Learning to Disagree. Anthony Malone and Majella Dempsey, representatives of Maynooth University in the project, hosted the third development and training seminar. In earlier seminars in Topola (Serbia) and Berlin, the core team started developing learning materials on how to teach and assess dialogue, debate, and discussion about controversial subjects in the classroom.

On Friday morning, Denise Nolan, a National Officer with the Junior Cycle for Teachers History Team, introduced participants to the latest developments in Irish curriculum reform. “Junior Cycle places students at the center of the educational experience, enabling them to actively participate in their communities and in society and to be resourceful and confident learners in all aspects and stages of their lives.”

In order to guide the development of learning activities, Helen Snelson (Mount School York) and Majella Dempsey and Anthony Malone developed teaching strategies and assessment tools to provide the core team with examples on how to transform the content they had been collecting into lesson plans.

On Thursday, the Russell Library opened its doors for core team members to discover their rich collections of old manuscripts, maps, and prayer books.

The core team, divided in different groups, further developed the learning materials of the first three topics: people on the move, borders, and surviving under pressure. Each of these three topics will consist of collections of perspectives from politicians, citizens and (international) organizations. Marko Suica and Lidija Zupanic-Suica, (Education for the 21st Century), presented their research on the fourth topic that the L2D team will work on: contested cultural heritage.

In the coming months the materials will be finalized and piloted with students. Eventually, all materials will include relevant context in the form of additional sources and timelines, as well as hands-on teaching strategies and assessment tools. The materials will be made available on Historiana in early 2020 as e-learning activities and stand-alone learning activities and source collections.

Read the full report of the training here.

Read more about Learning to Disagree

Good peace or bad peace? EuroClio provides workshop at War or Peace conference in Berlin

 

“War or Peace: Crossroads of History” is the full name of the festival that was organized in Berlin by the Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung (BPB), and took place from Wednesday 17 October to Sunday 21 October 2018. Approximately 350 young people, aged between 18 and 30 years old, came together in 20 different workshops over the course of three days to learn and exchange ideas about notions of peace and democracy, in light of the centenary of the end of the First World War. In the words of the president of the BPB Thomas Krüger: “Learning about history might not give us answers to all of today’s challenges. But engaging with it can help us to understand each other’s narratives, fears and hopes in order to find common solutions.”

EuroClio provided a workshop called “Good peace : bad peace – balancing self-determination and realpolitik” developed by trainers Ute Ackermann Boeros and Bob Stradling.

The morning of the first workshop day was reserved for introductions and briefing. During the introductions, it became clear that the group of nineteen young academics was diverse and very lively. In the warm-up activity that Bob Stradling and Ute Ackermann had prepared, the group was asked to draw borders on an ethnic map of Central-Eastern Europe where they thought there should be borders after the First World War. New confederations were drawn up, keeping in mind several criteria such as language, ethnicity, (a common) history, but also the level of militaristic power for self-defence, and possible claims to the territory were thought about. Then, participants received another map, showing how the borders were actually drawn, and they were asked to compare it to the borders they drew themselves. Interesting perspectives and ideas about self-determination arose – from Namibia and South Africa to Syria, the Balkans, and Turkey from a Kurdish perspective.

After lunch, the participants sat down in their respective groups, and worked on their case-studies. They could choose between the cases of Cyprus, the Middle East, Czechoslovakia, the Kurds, and Poland. In each of these cases, the concept of self-determination comes to the fore in a different manner. Sources were divided and the rooms were quiet, apart from the regular sound of paper being turned, and sighs of concentration. After reading and discussing about the case-studies within their groups, participants reviewed the case-studies in light of four over-arching questions:

  1. To what extend does history show that self-determination solves the problems of the people seeking it?
  2. Under what conditions has self-determination contributed to peace and under what conditions does it appear to contribute to conflict?
  3. Are there solutions that can lead to minorities getting self-determination without conflict arising between the minority and the majority?
  4. What still needs to be done by the UN to make it an effective means of ensuring peace in multi-national, multi-ethnic countries and regions?

The second day of workshops, Friday, started with a plenary wrap up of what the groups discussed. Conclusions on the focus on these first case-studies showed that the concept of self-determination has many dimensions and plays out very differently depending on the context. It can lead to a peaceful separation, but also to decades of struggle, and even violent conflict. Moreover, to identify the actors in the decision on self-determination proved to be insightful and sheds light on the fact that self-determination is not always the only issue at stake.

After the plenary discussion, the participants chose their second case-studies, on which they worked throughout the morning. In the afternoon, no workshops were planned, which allowed participants to take part in one of the many side activities the organisers had planned, and to meet other international participants outside of the selected workshop. The programme included interactive and creative parts, performances, lectures, and discussions.

The morning of the last day was dedicated to finalizing second case-study in order for the participants to be able to compare and contrast with the first case-study they had analysed. Participants realized that some cases proved to be more difficult than others, and terms such as concessions, consistency, and institutional reform were named as concepts that could push in the right direction for reaching agreements.

The Saturday afternoon was reserved for an exhibition of the outcomes of the workshops in the Palais am Festungsgraben, next to the Gorki Theatre. All twenty workshops had a spot throughout the Palais in which they were able to show to other participants what was done in their workshop, and what they had learned. In order to prepare for this, our participants worked on creating a video consisting of different components. Questions such as what does self-determination mean for you, and how to reform institutions to become more effective in dealing with these issues are addressed in this video.

Overall, the workshop proved to be very successful, as participants were engaged with the material and tackled the production of the video together. Their different backgrounds provided an interesting exchange of knowledge and ideas.

Text and photos by Agatha Oostenbrug

Third training in Finland: making the EU an interesting topic for students

Catalina Gaete Project Updates

As part of the Decisions and Dilemmas 3: making learning about the EU motivating and meaningful project, the third national training event was held on 5-6 June 2018, in Kallio upper secondary school in Helsinki. The training is based on the translated materials from the Historiana Changing Europe unit. In this event, 32 Finnish history teachers took part, and an international trainer from the Czech Republic, Jiří Beneš, was present as well.

The meeting kicked off with a lecture called “Populism, nationalism and the future of Europe” by Dr. Emilia Palonen from the University of Helsinki. This lecture was followed by a presentation of national trainer Kati Hynönen which treated the topic of Historiana webpages and the project itself, Decisions and Dilemmas III. The overall goal of the project is to make learning about the EU interesting for students while simultaneously conveying more information about the motives and reasons behind political, economic and social initiatives that led to the founding of the EU. This is done by giving students insight in dealing with current issues. Kati Hynönen also presented the results of the Teaching Europe research, which focused on the way the EU is taught in the participating countries by analyzing school textbooks.

 The workshop sessions that followed, consisted of two parallel workshops, namely “Subvertising as a pedagogical tool” held by Eeva Kemppainen, and “Rising from the Ruins” by Kati Hynönen.

“Rising from the Ruins” showcased the situation in post-war Europe and the events that initiated the start of European integration. In order to better understand the unit, the participants took part in several activities, such as studying character cards and taking part in the drama. The play allowed the participants to role-play as various historical figures, like George Marshall and Joseph Stalin. Subsequently, an analysis of the workshop allowed for the participants to share their thoughts about the material and its applicability in their own classrooms. The Finnish history and social studies teachers were extremely excited about the material.

The first day concluded with a field trip to windy Vallisaari island on the Helsinki archipelago, followed by a dinner in the center of Helsinki. Vallisaari island has been in military use and has been open to public only for two years. Fortifications, buildings and a record-breaking range of different species tell a tale of coexistence between humans and wild nature. The second day of the event started with a lecture on meaningful reading, held by Dr. Sara Routarinne from the University of Turku.

This day’s first workshops were held by international trainer Jiří Beneš and Dr. Najat Ouakrim-Soivio from the University of Helsinki. Dr. Najat Ouakrim-Soivio gave a workshop on evaluating the skills in history. Beneš presented the material “Opening Europe’s borders: border controls in a (post-)Schengen world. How did the migrant crisis shake the foundations and principles of the European Union?” With this material, students will consider to what extent the Schengen agreement functions and how much freedom of movement there is within the EU. They will discuss how the EU is dealing with the migrant crisis and how this crisis has influenced the ‘shaking’ of the EU’s foundations. They will also reflect on questions such as whether the migrant crisis is a problem for the entire EU, or only for those countries on route. Moreover, students will look at what is required for someone from outside the Schengen circle in order to get the Schengen Visa.

In the final two workshops, Mr. Tomi Rytkönen talked about the program called “Junior Achievement Finland,” and national trainer Kati Hynönen presented the material “The challenge of European stability”. By using this material, students will learn about the ups and downs of European stability from 1945 until today, and learn how Europeans have responded to the challenge of maintaining stability. Overall, the participants of this two-day event were positive about the program and considered the workshops very meaningful.

The national training event was organized in cooperation with The Association for Teachers of History and Social Studies in Finland. The text and pictures are from the report written by Kirsi Ruhanen.

Make your Teaching more Inclusive and Accessible for your Students

Jaco Stoop Featured, Project Updates

The Strategies for Inclusion project has reached its final phase with just a few months left. The partners met for the final time in Slovenia, embedded in the final training seminar of the project. In this meeting the final steps in the project were discussed, both in terms of content and in terms of the management. An event report can be found here.

The Special Interest Group members also gathered for the last time in the project during the final training seminar in Metlika. In a reflective session the SIG members expressed the project has widened their own perspective on inclusive education, and that is exactly what this project is about. They also expressed a commitment to continue work on this issue. We will explore the possibilities for additional (online) trainings with the resources developed.

This included the finalisation of the educational resources developed in the project. These formed the basis of national workshops and the workshops in the final training in Slovenia, and will be offered on Historiana after summer. These are concrete history or citizenship lessons, with an inclusive approach and with specific tips on how to make certain elements of the lesson more inclusive, depending on the type of students you have. Some of these resources will also become available in the project languages (Armenian, Dutch, Norwegian, Slovenian and Portuguese).

Additionally, the work on collecting concrete practices of history and/or citizenship teaching methods, lessons or educational initiatives that have an inclusive approach continues. You can find blogposts with these methods on our website here, with regular publications of new posts of other practices we collected in the project.

Core Team Learning to Disagree, Content Themes Selected

The consortium of Learning to Disagree have selected fifteen educators from twelve different countries to form a project core team. The core team will be developing exemplar content on controversial issues, as well as contributing to the creation of teacher’s guides on dialogue, debate and discussion, and assessment. In general, Learning to Disagree aims to develop exemplar content, teaching strategies and assessment tools that enable educators to teach and assess dialogue, debate, and discussion on controversial subjects. The exemplar content that will be developed, will address debates about the following five topics: borders, behaving in danger or under occupation, protection, use and abuse of cultural heritage, annexation and separatism, and freedom of expression. Following the first staff training event organised in Topola, Serbia, in March of this year, EuroClio and Education for the 21st Century have further shaped these themes. During the upcoming meeting in August, the core team will receive training on the development of educational resources, and continue the work on the exemplar materials.

Historiana eActivity Builder
One of the main outcomes of the Learning to Disagree project, is a building block that will be added to the Historiana eActivity Builder. This building block will visualise different points of view on a particular (controversial) issue, such as for instance freedom of expression. The building block, called Variety of Viewpoints, will be included in eLearning activities that combine the visualisation with context in the form of a timeline, discussion questions, and additional guidance on teaching strategies and assessment tools.

Training events in countries of core team members
Towards the end of the project, in the first half of 2020, training events will be organised on teaching dialogue, debate, and discussion on controversial subjects. The training events will be organised by the core team members in their own countries: Bulgaria, Croatia, Denmark, Estonia, France, Greece Hungary Italy, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, and Turkey. The final project training will take place in Serbia, in March or April 2020.