Call to Action: In Europe Schools

Adriana Fuertes EUROCLIO ,

Following the success of last year in which we welcomed over 120 participating schools from all over Europe, we invite you to join the new round of In Europe Schools!

Head over to www.vprobroadcast.com/ineuropeschools and select your Education Kit of preference:

In an effort to constantly keep innovating and improving the program, and as a result of last years' feedback session, we are launching an Online Start of the Project and Inspiration Session with every new cycle (thus taking place in October and February). During these sessions, teachers across Europe partaking in the project will have the opportunity to meet each other (digitally), get acquainted with In Europe Schools, and share ideas or experiences.

Do you want to join, but only later this school year? That's no problem! You can already register via this form or send an email to eugenie@euroclio.eu to subscribe to the In Europe Schools Newsletter. 

Interested in our latest student-made documentaries? You can find them on the In Europe Schools  YouTube Channel.

For the Fall cycle, please make sure to register before November 1st, and we can match you with your partner school right away!

In Europe Schools – Building an Online Safe Space

An online meetup with your partner school is very exciting, but can also be a bit challenging or overwhelming for both you and your students. To ensure a safe and fruitful online learning environment, we have created Guidelines for an Online Safe Space. Before meeting up online with your partner school, read and discuss the document with your students. This way, we can create a virtual classroom, in which both teachers and students will feel safe to engage in conversations and discussion while feeling respected and valued at all times.

 

In Europe documentaries: developing new skills, learning with enthusiasm – A conversation with teachers & students

Giulia Verdini Articles ,

In 2019, EuroClio joined forces with Dutch public broadcaster VPRO for the development of In Europe Schools, an online exchange project meant for European schools, teachers and youngsters to meet and cooperate. By 2021, more than 110 schools from 30 different countries have registered, and many decided to start a new round of the project.

In Europe Schoolsencourages a transnational approach of teaching Modern European History: European schools partner up to cooperate in the research, filming, documentary-making and finally exchanging not only their respective documentary, but also their ideas, experiences and opinions on rather controversial themes, such as difficult history, migration, climate change and gender equality. The project aims to foster collaboration between European teachers and youngsters and ultimately strengthens students’ capability of doing research and their media literacy skills, but it also enables them to acknowledge history as history in the making.

At the end of the school year 2020-2021, EuroClio sat down with some of the schools that joined the project to know more about their experiences, discuss the strengths of the project, but also difficulties and suggestions for improvement. Several teachers - but also students! - were interviewed, among which Deirdre from the Kandinsky College, Kristina from Elgoibar Ikastola, Matej from OŠ Belokranjskega odreda Semič, and Amaia from Santo Tomas Lizeoa. In addition to that, teachers from different schools had the opportunity to meet each other, exchange experiences and practices, and share thoughts and feedback with EuroClio during the peer learning event, held on 17 June 2021.

Meet the teachers: Amaia, Matej, Kristina and Deidre

Why did you decide to participate in this project? 

Amaia: We wanted our students to connect with students from other European countries, give them the opportunity to discuss their work and exchange experiences with students in other countries.

Matej: I wanted to give my students the opportunity to participate in an international project. The topic of migrations is close to my students, as we live at the Schengen border and illegal migrations are common. I also wanted my students to communicate with students from other countries.

Kristina: Our school is committed to international projects. In addition, the goal of the project is in line with our curriculum and competency model.

Deirdre: It is a great opportunity for students to work on beneficial topics with students from other countries.

 

How has the response of the students changed throughout the project?

Amaia: In the beginning, our students were not so confident with their knowledge of the topic and their command of foreign languages, but participating in the project has helped them to gain confidence.

Matej: My students started this project very open-mindedly, despite the fact that we live in a conservative region, where immigrants are not appreciated, or rather local people feel a certain amount of fear towards immigrants. Different perspectives, given in the project, even enlarged student’s empathy towards immigrants.

Kristina: Although the task at first seemed abstract and difficult for them, they gradually adapted to the task and came out with a very tidy job.

Deirdre: They have become more involved in the history lessons.

 

What was the biggest challenge?

Amaia: Finding interviewees was quite difficult. Language has been an added difficulty for some of our students, but not all. Finding the right rhythm for both schools was difficult, since we often had holidays and exams at different moments and therefore, we had difficulties to agree on deadlines and online meetings. We had to make some changes in our organization to be able to keep the contact. 

Matej: Due to Covid-19 our country experienced one of the longest lockdowns in Europe. For 6 months we had online school. Making documentaries was quite a big challenge. All communication was made via online meetings.

Kristina: The hardest part has been finding close and real testimonials. It’s not easy to put people in front of the camera.

Deirdre: Time, planning and research skills of students. While the lesson plans are very clear, we realised that the research part is quite open, so students either step up to the challenge or lose it a bit.

 

Were there any clashes in the classroom because of different opinions/perspectives?

Amaia: Not really, our students were mostly of the same opinion, and when they discussed with our partner school students, we discovered that they had similar views on the topic.

Matej: No, not really. However, we were not able to discuss the topic as thoroughly as we wanted. 

Kristina: Even though the affair was tough and difficult to deal with, the students kept their distance.

Deirdre: Not really. We do encourage an open atmosphere in class so it was ok to debate some topics.

 

How did Covid-19 affect the outcome?

Amaia: Last year´s lockdown made it very difficult for us to organise and coordinate the groups. Finding interviewees and making the interview was more difficult due to Covid-19 restrictions. But in the end, we managed. 

Matej: We had some problems finding time for all the activities in the project. That is also the reason why we needed a lot of time for our documentaries. 

Kristina: Of course, the pandemic has not made it easier to interact with people. And in our case, we wanted to deal with similar experiences.

Deirdre: Group work proved to be tricky as well as keeping distance while creating documentaries and carrying out interviews.

 

Did you create a meaningful relationship with your partner school?

Amaia: I think we did. We ended the project with a final online meeting of the different groups, and this event was highly valued by our students. They were very happy to have the opportunity to get to know students from other countries and talk to them about their experiences.

Matej: Sadly, no. We even changed our partner school. We sent our documentaries to the school and I tried to organise an online meeting. I was not successful with that. We also did not get any feedback on our work or received documentaries from other schools. I am very disappointed because of that. 

Kristina: In our case, we couldn’t fit a better colleague. The teacher is very knowledgeable, hardworking and ideal for directing this type of work and project.

Deirdre: Yes, our Spanish partners were great. With our Turkish partners, it was a little more difficult due to expectations and time differences. 

 

Do you have any suggestions on how this project could be implemented?

Amaia: The project as it is designed right now does not require much contact between partner schools until the end. We would suggest starting collaborating and getting to know each other from the beginning: instead of each school making their own videos and then showing them to their partner school, it could be more productive to mix the groups from the start, making them international from the beginning, so that the relationship between students becomes more collaborative from the first stages of the project. It would make the organization more complex, but it would also be a more enriching experience.

Matej: I would like to thank Eugenie from Euroclio, for all the help and support. It was very hard sometimes to continue with this project, but her emails of support helped us to finish our work. I think being in contact with project leaders is very important, even when it is only about moral support. 

Kristina: Everything was fine, maybe next year we can share part of the research or we can mix our students up.

Deirdre: Although I know it would be more difficult to arrange, I think it would be more beneficial if the students could actually work with their International partners to create one documentary.

What do students say?

All students agreed that such initiatives offer a new approach to history as a subject, and a different way of learning which enabled them not only to get an insight into specific moments of history, different perspectives and cultures, but also to encounter direct witnesses. 

Although researching is often the most difficult part, students are trained to find reliable information and develop their media literacy skills: overall, they genuinely enjoyed discovering facts that most likely they would have not encountered in a text, and coming across interesting anecdotes that they did not know of. It inevitably pushed them to further investigate their findings, test their knowledge and develop their research skills.

Everybody enjoyed creating a documentary from scratch, starting from researching the topic and then filming. It proved to be an effective way to learn about the past and about the way our past is so deeply interconnected with our present, which positively contributes to shaping a more informed society. It obviously helped them develop their digital skills: they learnt how to record and design the video. Video making was their favourite part: from doing the interviews to filming, video editing and seeing the documentary coming together. They were all excited whilst seeing their ideas taking shape, and eventually satisfied and proud of seeing what they were able to create.

Also watching documentaries from the partner school proved to be fascinating, as they found that they could learn a lot more about different histories of different countries compared to solely reading the history book envisaged in their curriculum.

Students’ views regarding the theme did not necessarily change, but they did get to learn a lot more: researching made them understand the topic better, and encountering multiple, at times contrasting perspectives was thought-provoking. Others affirmed that prior to the project, they did not have much knowledge about their topic, so ‘In Europe’ helped them to form an opinion. For privacy reasons, we cannot share their names, but we are proud to share some of the positive comments we received:

These kinds of initiatives raise awareness, especially among young people, about problems in the world. We were also able to express our opinions. 

We have learnt new things, met people, and practised English, but at the same time you have to work hard and the topic can be sensitive. 

We developed both academic and creative skills. 

It was such a fun way to learn about a topic and it’s very nice to learn differently than just sitting in the classroom. 

You learn a lot more about different histories of different countries than you learn in the book. 

It was an interesting and fun approach to help students know more about world history. 

I got to know the perspectives of both sides of the difficult history and formed an opinion. 

Where are we going from here?

Teachers found the project to be well organized and the different steps clear, and they also appreciated the assistance provided by EuroClio. They were particularly happy about the fact that they could decide which topic to focus on, for example, in order to select a relevant topic for the history of their country or to still be able to follow their history curriculum. 

The main difficulties revolved around the communication and the cooperation between the schools, however, coordinating with the partner school is truly the key to the success of the project: students can benefit a lot from online meetings and they particularly appreciate having the chance to engage with other European students - in some schools, this relationship continued after the project thanks to social media! For this reason, the implementation of a platform for communication could be of great use in order to enable schools to work together and build a stronger network and relationships.

Few schools have mentioned the importance of having clearer guidance on what recording/editing programmes shall be used for the making of the documentary, and others would appreciate having more resources categorized per topic.

We are genuinely grateful for the positive feedback we received, and we are also working on improvements. EuroClio will implement new sessions to explain the project and the toolkits, networking sessions for teachers and try to create an online learning community for students as well.

Both teachers and students really enjoyed taking part in this project because it’s a different kind of activity for teachers, but also a different way of learning for students, that keeps them more motivated and engaged. Some schools are planning to do this project as an interdisciplinary project between different subjects. Most schools will join again next year, because students want to do it again!

Written by Giulia Verdini

Are you struggling with keeping students motivated and engaged in the classroom? Let them investigate, film and tell their own current (hi)story! Climate Change, Gender Equality, Migration, as well as Difficult History, are the histories and challenges of all of us today. Sign up here for next year! 

Watch the latest documentaries!

You can find all the videos made by students on our YouTube Channel.

Source Image: Turkish Migration | Titus Brandsma College

In Europe Schools: Small Narratives for European Integration

Giulia Verdini Articles ,

On February 26th, EuroClio’s Eugenie Khatschatrian and VPRO’S Odette Toeset sat down with Robin de Bruin of the Amsterdam School for Regional, Transnational and European Studies (ARTES). The discussion, hosted by the European Cultural Foundation, shed light on the precious outcomes of In Europe Schools, its relevance in building European cooperation and citizenship and, perhaps, in contributing to a new, inclusive and diversified narrative(s) for Europe.

 In Europe Schools is a unique online project that encourages a transnational approach of teaching Modern European History and focuses on the development of research skills and media literacy through documentary-making. More than 110 schools from 30 different countries have joined us so far!  

Why "In Europe Schools"?

The Community Conversation event started off with a brief explanation about how the project came to life. In 2007, Dutch broadcasting company VPRO released the ‘’In Europe’’ television series in the Netherlands on the modern history of Europe, from WWII until the fall of the Berlin Wall. Perhaps unexpectedly, the series turned out to be a source of inspiration for some Dutch history teachers. In fact, they asked whether it was possible to develop educational resources based on the series. In a way, the project represents the natural “evolution” of the series, but most importantly, it started because of a concrete demand - real needs of teachers who were struggling with teaching sensitive and controversial issues in the classroom. In 2018, a second series of the documentary was released, this time dealing with very recent history - from 1989 onwards: the series was subtitled “History Caught in the Act”. 

Catching history in the act is indeed what In Europe Schools is all about. VPRO joined forces with EuroClio with the main goal to connect youngsters working together, focusing on history whilst they are in the midst of it, and ultimately have united European youngsters. In a few words, the project requires that two European schools partner up: secondary school students do research and film their recent history; they exchange the documentary and discuss the outcome. In Europe Schools therefore enables multiperspectivity by matching schools from different parts of Europe and approaches European history from a transnational perspective. It facilitates a European network of teachers and students, and by doing so, it also more broadly encourages European cooperation.

An overview of EU’s Grand Narrative(s) and its Crises

During the discussion, Robin de Bruin asserted multiple times that the genius of this project is that it is a grassroots project, especially in a time of unprecedented crisis due to the pandemic and in which the European Union might not appear as strong as it used to.

The EU created its Grand Narrative after 1945: after WWII, the grand narrative of European integration as a peace project for the member states was building peace by creating welfare - a narrative which De Bruin, hereby following his colleague Wolfram Kaiser, refers to as “peace through a common market’’ narrative (Kaiser 368).

That the horrors of Auschwitz have become the key experience for European history-writing is a common opinion, and for some historians it represents the creation of a foundational past since 1945. This led to two outcomes: on the one hand, the memory of WWII was perceived as the memory par excellence; on the other hand, it led to neglecting the histories of other parts of Europe, the experiences of colonialism and imperialism. Colonialism and postcolonial resentment were indeed excluded from European history, and only recently they have received renewed attention.

European integration history has now the aim of trying to heal the division of Eastern and Western histories by constructing a common past that also contemplates the experience of communism - and consequently the aim of dismantling Eurocentrism, seen as conscious or unconscious tendency to judge histories from all over the world by taking Western history as the norm and role model to follow. In the twenty-first century, Eurocentrism remains powerful both at seen and unseen levels and affects contemporary politics and international affairs.

Michael Wintle argues that the Holocaust started a process in which Europe has gradually become willing to confront its problematic past: European countries have started to face their past crimes and more openly address slavery, imperialism, colonialism, and also the post-Yugoslav conflicts of the 1990s. In Europe Schools includes an Education Kit on Difficult History that deals with such topics and one of the main challenges both teachers and students face is how to critically address these sensitive issues and confront strong opinions.

Nowadays, the narrative of building peace through a common market narrative does not seem to appeal anymore, especially to younger generations. To counter Euroscepticism, the EU has started several initiatives to develop a new narrative for the European integration project. Dr De Bruin mentioned the “House of European History” in Brussels, which was created to include the communist experience of the Eastern European states into the grand narrative of European integration. Nevertheless, according to Dr De Bruin, it left out all other kinds of experiences, such as the colonial experience of former colonial subjects now living in Europe:

 When you include specific parts of the population, you also exclude other parts of the population. This is always the problem with the grand narratives of European integration. It’s really very important that a new narrative for Europe is a collection of those small little narratives, such as the personal narratives of the In Europe Schools project. Robin de Bruin

The force of In Europe Schools lies in the fact that it deals with a variety of small histories, and it’s precisely by starting from personal histories that perspectives and experiences can add up and become something powerful. 

When a grand narrative is replaced by another grand narrative, it is always fed by smaller narratives that at a certain moment become an avalanche.

Dealing with counter narratives: the implications of media literacy

The In Europe Schools toolkits are about controversial topics - difficult history, migration, climate change and gender equality - and sometimes it is difficult to introduce such topics to the classrooms, either because they are too abstract and students might not feel concerned, or because they are afraid to take a stand and they do not feel comfortable about expressing their own opinion. Pupils are encouraged to take their difficult histories into the classroom, which can be seen as a microcosmos of Europe. As students come from different parts of Europe (or even different parts of the world) within the same classroom, they might have different views of the European Union and perceive topics differently such as migration or climate change. The main challenge for teachers is to promote a discussion in a context not of hatred and intolerance, but open-mindedness and inclusion. Despite monitoring strong statements and potential fake news, the project does not give a clear political direction and it does not exclude any story. The project therefore covers a wide spectrum of personal narratives and collects authentic stories, yet stories that people have the power to tell in the way they want to - thanks to storytelling and media literacy.

We don’t give political directions because it’s interesting to have different opinions. People who are against migration are allowed to make their own story on migration. But of course, there is a limit. We chose not to have the comments open because with comments open it could explode and it’s really difficult to oversee it. Odette Toeset

So far, there haven’t been clashes in the classrooms while working on the project. The main source of discomfort has rather been the question of how to protect people (for example family members) who would like to share their story but fear dangerous consequences. People are hesitant to show themselves on camera and do not want the video to be published on the Internet. Odette mentioned that as a documentary-maker, you don’t want to lose the story and at the same time you want to protect these people and ensure their safety. So how do you tell a story in a documentary without putting people, potentially, in danger? Timelapse and drawing can help anonymise a story, the video-maker can make sure that people are not recognizable in the video or just decide to leave out the actual people to tell a more generic story.

When students are done with the documentaries, they upload the video on YouTube. The use of media literacy, which may be the main strength of the project, can also represent a risk: the YouTube channel has to be monitored, as it is a potential open space on which all kinds of content can be uploaded. In order to avoid conflicts, VPRO chose not to have the comment section open.

Building European citizens?

It is clear that the project might have interesting implications in creating a European identity - a sense of belonging and personal identification with Europe. When asked whether they have the feeling of helping building European citizens, Odette replied:

These youngsters are the next European citizens that have to vote, be part of Europe and work together, and working together will be much more important in the future. We see now with Covid that there is a clash between national interests and European interests, but you can’t do without each other. We want to give people the open space to face cooperation themselves and not forcing it onto them. Odette Toeset

In Europe Schools requires students and teachers to fill out a survey - both in the beginning and in the end - in which there are questions about being European and how their awareness on certain topics has changed, but also about the use of media literacy and their perception of collaboration. 

In 2015, Wilfried Loth was writing that “European identity will therefore not simply replace national identity in the foreseeable future. Instead, what seems to be emerging is that people in Europe are living with a multilayered identity, an identity in which regional, national, and European aspects are united.” (Loth 437). Whilst the cultural form of the EU aimed to create a European identity that rests on the premise that Europe has a single, shared culture, In Europe Schools acknowledges that this is not always the case.

European culture is plural, in flux and contested; it does not rest on a shared history (...) National cultures or even a European culture may exist in perception, but that does not make us all the same. Europe and European culture are discourses, with many voices, including some from outside the conventional borders, and those of newcomers from ex-colonies and elsewhere.” (Wintle 248-249).

Students are working on their own personal narratives, but are also very excited about cooperating with other European students and, in this sense, might feel part of a European narrative. Pupils are in general super excited about filming: they are using this project instead of going out on a school trip, and thus to discover different European cultures and viewpoints. The sense of collaboration is really important: for example, two schools decided to join their forces, partner up students with the partner school and make the documentary together. 

  On the long term, the project aims at maintaining the European connection: ideally schools would continue working together to keep a European network of both students and teachers.Eugenie Khatschatrian

Bibliography - and suggested readings!

Appelqvist, Örjan. “Rediscovering uncertainty: early attempts at a panEuropean post-war recovery”. Cold War History. Vol. 8, No. 3. Routledge (pp. 327–352), 2008.

Brolsma, M., de Bruin, R., Lok, M. Eurocentrism in European History and Memory. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2019.

FitzGibbon, J., Leruth, B., Startin, N. Euroscepticism as a Transnational and Pan-European Phenomenon : The Emergence of a New Sphere of Opposition. Routledge, 2016.

Kaiser, W. “Clash of Cultures: Two Milieus in the European Union's. ‘A New Narrative for Europe’ Project”. Journal of Contemporary European Studies, Vol. 23, No. 3 (pp. 364-377), 2015.

Loth, W. Building Europe. Berlin, München, Boston: De Gruyter Oldenbourg, 2015.

Sorrels, K. Cosmopolitan Outsiders: Imperial Inclusion, National Exclusion, and the Pan-European Idea, 1900-1930. Palgrave Macmillan, 2016.

Van Meurs, W. et al. The Unfinished History of European Integration. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2018.

Wintle, M. Eurocentrism: History, Identity, White Man’s Burden. Routledge, 2020.

Join the project

Check out In Europe Schools’ website and YouTube Channel

Contact us via eugenie@euroclio.eu or register via this form

Toolkits: 

Learn More

If you are interested in how to decolonise history, please read our blog post and join our webinar series from 16 April to 21 May 2021

You can subscribe to future Community Conversations at http://eepurl.com/haj679 

In Europe Schools: Documentary-Making and Online Exchange for European Schools

The second half of 2019  marked the start of a new and unique partnership between EuroClio and Dutch Public Broadcaster VPRO for the development of educational resources on modern European history. Inspired by the VPRO-television series In Europe - History Caught in the Act, presented by Dutch best-selling author Geert Mak, EuroClio, VPRO and a team of enthusiastic authors joined their forces for the making of In Europe Schools: An online exchange project for European schools, in which students research and film their own local histories and exchange their documentaries with peers from their partner school anywhere in Europe. The project offers Education Kits on four main themes of modern European history: Difficult History, Migration, Climate Change and Gender Equality. 

But how to ‘catch history in the act’? Each Kit challenges students to critically think and reflect on complex historical events and their impact on our societies nowadays and even on our daily lives, while also encouraging the development of a variety of skills like conducting research and interviewing as well as skills and competencies related to documentary-making and overall media literacy. All topics are introduced through Starter Clips and students are guided by a central research question, for example, How should we deal with a difficult past? or How should we respond to gender inequality?

Once students have acquired an in-depth understanding of the topics, they are ready to dive into their local histories of Migration, into local Change Makers in the struggle against Climate Change or perhaps into their own experiences of gender inequality. Their findings, stories and research outcomes will then result in self-made documentaries to be exchanged and discussed with students across Europe to reflect on how similar topics and events are experienced from different perspectives, encouraging the approach of teaching and learning European history from a transnational perspective, strengthening multiperspectivity. 

Each Education Kit consists of both ready-made teacher and student materials, accompanied by Tutorials on Research, Interviewing, Editing, Filming and Uploading, helping the students with the making of their documentaries. All Kits are comprised of four steps: 

Step 1: Introducing the project and topic                           (50 minutes)

Step 2: Learning more about the context and topic         (100 minutes)

Step 3: Research and creation of the documentary         (200 minutes, mostly homework)

Step 4: Sharing the videos and reflection                          (90 minutes) 

You can download the PDF of each Education Kit below or go directly to the teachers’ and student materials:  

                                

Difficult History - PDF                                                              Migration - PDF             

Difficult History - Teachers & Students                                Migration - Teachers & Students 

Difficult History - Starter Clip                                                 Migration - Starter Clip    

                               

Climate Change - PDF                                                             Gender Equality - PDF 

Climate Change - Teachers & Students                               Gender Equality - Students & Teachers 

Climate Change - Starter Clip                                                Gender Equality - Starter Clip 

 

You can download the Introduction Clip and all the Tutorials below: 

Introduction Clip 

Tutorial Research

Tutorial Research (Extended)

Tutorial Interviewing

Tutorial Filming

Tutorial Editing

Tutorial Uploading 

Tutorial @Home (Lockdown Tutorial)

All the materials are also available on www.vprobroadcast.com/ineuropeschools and the In Europe Schools YouTube Channel. For the latest news and information on this project, have a look at the Project Page

 

Project Leader: Odette Toeset (VPRO)

Authors: Harri Beobide, Daniel Bernsen, Marian Heesen, Steven Stegers and Odette Toeset

 

Project led and initiated by: 

Funded by:

                        

In Europe Schools: What do teachers and students say?

Eugenie Khatschatrian EUROCLIO, Project Updates , ,

In 2019, EuroClio joined forces with Dutch public broadcaster VPRO for the development of an online exchange project for European schools - In Europe Schools. Inspired by the VPRO television series In Europe - History Caught in the Act on modern European history, EuroCio and VPRO, alongside a team of authors, created four Education Kits on Difficult History, Migration, Climate Change and Gender Equality. Part of the online exchange programme are documentaries made by students on their local histories, which they share and discuss with their peers from the partner schools. Students engage in research on their local histories and are supported by various Tutorials on Filming, Editing, Research, and Interviewing, in which the makers of In Europe - History Caught in the Act share their tips and tricks for making good documentaries.

Following a piloting phase in Spring this year, nearly 100 schools have just started a new round of In Europe Schools. EuroClio has taken a moment to reflect on the project with two teachers who successfully completed the piloting phase and are currently participating in the new round. and Anila Beshaj from Albania and Cristina Gila from Romania took a moment to share their experiences with the project.

What prompted your participation in the project? 

An image from Starter clip Migration

For Anila, who worked on the topic of Migration, the making of the documentary was a specifically appealing aspect of the exchange project . Cristina, who worked on Difficult History,  found out about the project during the 2019 EuroClio Annual Conference held in Gdansk, where In Europe Schools was presented. The collaborative aspect of documentary making and the exchange of ideas was  of particular interest to Cristina.

Anila: The idea of making a short documentary was rather captivating. It was also instructive as the students (and I together with them) had to go through different phases (research on the subject, creation of some kind of script, carry out the filming), which was at the same time challenging, but also very interesting from the student/teacher point of view.

Cristina: I found the idea of involving students in a collaborative European project interesting. Young people exchange ideas, document themselves and carry out their own research. Also, the fact that the students assume different roles: interviewer, director, cameraman, to create a documentary seemed a challenge to me. We felt that learning through the project in history classes has a strong impact on the future training for the lives of young people.

How did your students experience documentary-making as a part of their history classes? 

Anila: The making of the documentary was an interesting experience for the students. They had to combine socio-historical research and art which, in itself, was a new thing to them. They were very involved at a personal level and tried to find and use personal connections that might be of help in the making of the documentary. They were delighted when they saw the final product of their work.

Cristina: The project started in January 2020, so we had time to go through the materials, analyze and decide on the documentaries that we will make. By March, one of our documentaries was already finished.  The students experienced documentary making by collaborating in different teams and working together on creating our final product. The video editors got to learn the different techniques in video editing, while the writers and researchers got to discover the stories of the people they interviewed for the topic. The participation in the project, for some students, was a chance to assert themselves, to come out of anonymity and to prove their personal talent or their passions (film editor, writer). Although they were enthusiastic at first, after some time a part of them withdrew as it took a lot of work and involvement. Those who retired were replaced by other school classmates, curious and attracted by the idea of making a documentary on a historical theme. Involvement in the project, documenting, creating interviews, filming and editing films were moments of learning, but also moments of relaxation for students - they appreciated the stimulating and collaborative way of working. 

How did you experience the outbreak of Covid-19 and how did this affect the project at your school? 

As the piloting phase of the project took place in the beginning of this year, the participating schools faced different challenges related to the global outbreak of Covid-19. 

Anila: The Covid-19 experience was a unique one, as for almost everybody worldwide. The physical separation (due to the school closure) made the communication more difficult but they were able to fully use the technology to stay in touch, continue their work and get the final product ready on time. I believe that the difficulties helped, in a sense, making them more organized and attentive towards the challenges.

Cristina: Our school continued its teaching activities online. The second documentary was not fully completed, although it was in progress and the third documentary was never made. The students were not prepared for the activities at a distance, and this affected us all.

How did you experience the contact with your partner school? 

Project participants are matched to another school in Europe for the exchange of documentaries. Right from the very beginning of the project, the pairs are introduced to each other and advised to get to know each other (and their students) as soon as possible. After the first introduction, both schools continue working on the project separately, and exchange their documentaries online, following a final moment of contact for reflection: How is the same topic approached from different perspectives? For most schools participating, contacting the partner school remained to be a challenge due to local lockdowns and restrictions. 

Anila: I would say that the contact was rather superficial, just a few email exchanges - the pandemic weighed also on this situation.  

Cristina: Since the beginning of the project we have cooperated with our Dutch partner, from Zeven Linden College, Linda. Linda created a common space in Google Drive, where we uploaded our students' materials: their presentations. We conducted a Skype meeting, where our students were able to exchange ideas and opinions with our partners. 

What was the most challenging part of the project overall?

Anila: All the phases had their own difficulties. Of course, the film-making was a novelty for them and it took an important part of the preparation time. The research was, also, I would not say challenging but time consuming as they looked at a lot of materials and talked to different people in order to get a clear picture of the facts dealing with the documentary subject. 

Cristina: The most challenging part of the project was the lack of equipment (as in good cameras, different lights and semi-professional software) that could've made the workflow so much easier. Our experience last year was really fun. We got to experience video editing  and filmmaking for the first time, all while learning about our past.  

Student Perspectives 

Two of Cristina’s students were happy to share their own experience working on the project. Octavian (17 years old), worked together with his classmates on the history of Communism in the Romanian context and interviewed his grandparents. For Rares (15 years old), the project contributed to his personal development as he very enjoyed working together within a team. 

An image of the video Cristina's students made on the history of communism in Romania

Octavian: For me, this project represented a beneficial experience because I had the opportunity to work with some of my classmates. Also, I documented and I learned a lot of interesting things about life and about the priorities people had during Communism. I started my project activity by writing information that my grandparents told me about the Communist period. Moreover, the most important events from that time have happened during their youth. Also, I studied some materials with my teammates and we cooperated with Dutch students. I’m so proud of the effort I put in to achieve the desired goal and I'm glad I took part in this project!  

Rares: This project was my first experience working in a strong team that overcame all the difficulties.  I realized that I have managed to climb a new level in my personal development. I learned a lot with my fellow classmates, did the interviews and did the subtitles. The refusal of the elderly to answer our questions and to remember a painful history for the majority of the population was a challenge though. However, I am proud that the work done has paid off and our film has been appreciated at the European level. 

Understanding History & Media Literacy  

The overall aim of In Europe Schools is to contribute to the teaching and learning of modern European history from a transnational perspective, creating an (online) international working and learning environment for both teachers and students. One of the main learning objectives in this regard,  focuses on the development of skills related to media literacy. In this case, media literacy is not merely the making of the documentary in terms of filming and editing, but perhaps even more so in doing research and reflecting on each others’ work. Conducting research on their local histories, students make use of different media (mostly on the Internet) and are challenged to critically reflect on the sources they use. 

To see how the project has impacted students’ understanding of history and media literacy, the VPRO conducted a survey among the participating schools following the piloting phase. For most students, completing the project has resulted in an increased awareness and understanding of how history and the media framing of history can influence opinions. Even more so, 80% of the students indicated that their own views have been affected by the project and the documentaries they have made. Some of them state that, ‘’I better understand why migrants are fleeing from their home countries’’ or, ‘’I can see now that a lot of parts of European history have never been told (...)’’.  The educational materials encouraged students to think about issues like: What makes a source reliable? How does fact-checking work? How does recent (difficult) history impact one’s own views and opinions? What role does the media play in forming views and opinions? In Europe Schools seems to have helped students on their way in exploring such questions and challenges. 

Would you like to find out more about the project or participate with your students? Visit the website or the project page and have a look at the In Europe Schools YouTube Channel for all the documentaries, Starter Clips and Tutorials. For questions or more information, please contact us via eugenie@euroclio.eu

In Europe Schools: Join in November!

Have you missed the start of In Europe Schools in October? No worries! You still have time to register for a start in November.

Register here, and choose one out of four Education Kits: Difficult History, Migration, Climate Change and Gender Equality. We will match you to another school in Europe and you and your students will be ready to work on their research and documentaries.

Curious how the documentaries look like? Have a look at the In Europe Schools YouTube Channel.

For a full overview of the project, please visit: www.vprobroadcast.com/ineuropeschools or contact us via secretariat@euroclio.eu. See you soon! 

In Europe Schools: Join now!

We have wonderful news! We are delighted to announce that the In Europe Schools Project will be continued after a successful pilot phase! In 2019, EuroClio and Dutch Broadcasting Company VPRO joined forces to create online and free educational resources, based on the VPRO documentary series on Modern European History ‘In Europe – History Caught in the Act’, presented by Dutch best-selling author Geert Mak. In the past months, more than 40 schools across Europe were matched and worked with two Education Kits: Difficult History and Migration.

The Project will start with a new round of school matchings in October and November 2020, introducing two new additional Education Kits: Climate Change and Gender Equality. The newly developed @Home Tutorial provides tips and tricks on how to complete the project from home, when you are not able leaving the house. This makes the Project perfectly suitable for teachers and students in times of social distancing and closed schools, as it provides a great sense of flexibility!

Registrations are now open here! Make sure to register as soon as possible, so we can match you with another school in Europe. Don’t miss this opportunity to participate in a one-of-a-kind exchange project!

We look forward to seeing you soon!

To see Europe Schools' Introduction Video click here!

Starting of cooperation with makers TV Documentary “In Europe Now”

Together with the VPRO broadcasting company and the VGN, the Dutch History Teachers Association, EuroClio is working on a new exciting project In Europe at School – History Caught in the Act. The project will result in an educational toolkit based on the follow-up of the VPRO series In Europe, made with Geert Mak, the author of the books on which both series are made. The new series will focus on the question what changed in Europe during the last twenty years.

As part of the project, students will make their own documentary on a topic from the series, which means they will have to do their own research on history and learn to communicate it to others. There will be lesson plans for the topics and tutorials on how to make documentaries. There are history lessons on the specific topic to show the continuity and change in, of example, migration. Furthermore there are lessons to show how to find this topic locally and how to research it in order to produce a documentary. The produced documentaries are shared with a partner school from a different country, which means that the students will see the same topic, but from an entirely different perspective.

The first meeting with VPRO’s Educational Coordinator, Odette Toeset, and the EuroClio authors of the lesson plan, Daniel Bernsen, Harri Beobide and Marian Heesen, took place this month at the EuroClio Secretariat in The Hague. The team agreed on a structure that could be used for all topics, and decided on the topics and key questions for the first two lessons. We are looking forward to work more with our partner and authors on this creative project.

The first lessons of the toolkit will be ready when the series airs in the end of 2019.

In Europe Schools

About the Project

In 2019, Dutch national broadcaster VPRO joined forces with EuroClio and launched the In Europe Schools project! Inspired by the VPRO-television series, In Europe – History Caught in the Act, presented by Dutch best-selling author Geert Mak, VPRO and EuroClio developed four interactive online Educational Toolkits on the Modern History of Europe with topics including: Difficult History, Migration, Climate Change and Gender Equality.

We are proud to share that In Europe Schools has brought together more than 110 schools from all across Europe. The countries participating are Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, France, Georgia, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, North-Macedonia, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Turkey, and the United-Kingdom

Learning Objectives

  • Approaching the teaching and learning of modern European history from a transnational perspective, encouraging multiperspectivity
  • Encouraging international cooperation and networking between teachers and pupils
  • Developing hands-on research skills and experience in conducting interviews and documentary making
  • Learning how to film, edit and produce a documentary
  • Contributing to students’ overall development of media literacy

Expected Outcomes

In Europe Schools is a Europe exchange project, during which students are encouraged to research different questions on a variety of topics related to the Education Kits and process their findings in self-made documentaries. The final step of each Education Kit provides a moment of exchange and reflection: Students will exchange their documentaries with their peers in Europe, sharing thoughts and views, enabling them to see how similar topics are approached from different perspectives. 

The Education Kits are supported by Starter Clips and Tutorials, providing tips and tricks for research, interviewing, editing and producing their documentaries. All student-made documentaries are also available on the In Europe Schools YouTube Channel.

Project Material

How to ‘catch history in the act’? We developed interactive education kits about our recent history which will contribute to forming opinions, citizenships and media literacy. Each Kit challenges students to critically think and reflect on complex historical events and their impact on our societies, while also encouraging the development of a variety of skills like conducting research and interviewing as well competencies related to documentary-making and overall media literacy. Learn more about the toolkits!

Launch of the Climate Change Educational Kit of In Europe Schools in Dutch!

At the request of the Liaison office of the European Parliament in The Netherlands, EuroClio and a team of authors have translated and adapted the Climate Change Education Kit for secondary vocational education: VMBO-T level (Netherlands) and  TSO level (Flanders). Dutch and Flemish schools will soon be able to discover the Dutch-language Educational kit: ‘Klimaatverandering’ and exchange documentaries produced between the two of them.

We are excited to announce the launching of the pilot phase of this newly translated Educational Kit starting in the Fall, for which we need 4 Dutch schools and 4 Flemish schools to take part!

Does this project sound of interest to your school, and do you wish to spark a discussion on climate change in the classroom?  Please send an email to eugenie@euroclio.eu. if your school would like to participate in the pilot stage of this project.

Join us!
After a successful pilot phase in 2019, more than 100 schools have already registered. Schools can sign up here!
Teachers’ and Students’ Survey: We need your help!
 The In Europe Schools Team at EuroClio is always looking for ways to improve the project: the educational resources, the set-up and its overall implementation. In doing so, we would like to ask you and your students to fill in the In Europe Schools Start and End Surveys. Your input is very valuable!

Project Partners

 

Donors

Project Coordinators

Eugenie Khatschatrian