History Education and Global Politics. The case of borders.

Ana Radakovic and Maja Kesnikov, Education for the 21st Century

During this workshop, Ana and Maja will use some of the teaching strategies presented in the Learning to Disagree Teachers’ Guide to approach controversial borders. This is done in the context of a new interdisciplinary subject in Serbia: Global Politics, as well as the subject History. This combination offers the possibility to teach about complex political, economic, and social phenomena.

This workshop will present a lesson plan, designed for two consecutive lessons, dealing with the case of Northern Ireland.  Using various debate strategies, students will discuss diverse viewpoints and develop argumentation skills and tolerance. In this two part-part lesson-series, students will base their arguments on factual historical knowledge and historical sources and viewpoints provided by the selected materials from the Learning to Disagree project. In particular, they will use sources from the Northern Ireland Variety of Viewpoints, including politicians’ speeches, newspaper headlines, references to popular culture.

As a result of the lesson plan presented in this workshop, students will understand that the aim of a debate is not to declare a winner, but to voice structured and convincing arguments. Additionally, all student will develop attitudes of respect, responsibility, tolerance of ambiguity, openness towards the other, and openness to other beliefs, world views and practices.

This workshop is a product of the Learning to Disagree project. This project was initiated in response to the needs of educators who experience difficulties in addressing sensitive and controversial issues in their classrooms. The project, now in its final stages, offers trainings and support materials to teachers to face these topics head first with their students, thus teaching students vital skills such as the ability to listen, to consider alternative interpretations, and the ability of interacting with people that they disagree with in a constructive manner. Skills they will enjoy far beyond the classroom.

About the Workshop Hosts

 

Maja Keskinov is a teacher, teacher trainer and a coordinator at the Education for the 21st. Century. She teaches philosophy and geopolitics. She has also worked as a coordinator and consultant on various national and international projects. Maja is highly skilled in using different methods of debates in the classroom. Her experience as a teacher and teacher trainer for debating is extensive.

 

Ana Radaković is a history teacher and a member of the Education for the 21st century. She is a PhD student at History department at the Faculty of Philosophy in Belgrade where she has the position of a teaching assistant on the subjects: History teaching and didactics and Initial teacher training. Her field of research is history teaching in Serbia from 1990 to 2020. She was a participant and coordinator of numerous national and international seminars, conferences, trainings and summer schools concerning contemporary history and history teaching.

27th Annual Conference

This workshop is part of the 27th EuroClio Annual Conference on Controversy and Disagreement in the Classroom. You can find more information on the Annual Conference, including the full programme, on the Annual Conference main page.

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Workshop Fee

You can register to this single workshop for 15€ , or register to multiple workshops for a reduced fee.

Participation is free for Individual Members, Member Associations, and Ambassadors. Reach out to Djoera at djoera@euroclio.eu to know how to join.

How to bring, discuss, and evaluate diverse perspectives in the classroom. The case of Migrants.

Workshop by Matej Matkovic, Learning to Disagree Team

The first workshop of our online conference is a product of the Learning to Disagree project. This project was initiated in response to the needs of educators who experience difficulties in addressing sensitive and controversial issues in their classrooms. The project, now in its final stages, offers trainings and support materials for teachers to face these topics head first with their students, subsequently teaching students vital skills such as the ability to listen, to consider alternative interpretations, and the ability of interacting with people that they disagree with in a constructive manner. Skills they will enjoy far beyond the classroom.

Additionally, in a time of growing division, where intolerance creates an “us-versus-them” attitude among social groups, it is essential for students to learn how to deal with controversial subjects, and how to cope with a variety of viewpoints and disagreements. And therefore it is also important that teachers include methods of dialogue, debate and discussion in their lessons, and deal with controversies.

Matej is a core member of the Learning to Disagree team and will gladly introduce you to the methodologies and teachers guide he has been working on for the last three years. His workshop will be divided in three parts. The first part will allow you to experience the newly developed lesson plan for students first hand. This lesson plan will consist of what we call “a variety of viewpoints”, in which participants are introduced to a collection of written texts and media images about migration. Based on these materials, you and your fellow colleagues from across Europa are asked to form an opinion on migration to Europe and subsequently discuss these opinions in a group. In the second part, Matej will introduce the rationale behind the lesson, e.g. the teachers’ guide, focusing on how to use the teachers’ guide in different classrooms. In the final part, Matej will ask you to share your  views on the teaching strategy and assessment methods presented.

About the Workshop Host..

I am history and geography teacher from Slovenia. I graduated on Faculty of Arts in University of Ljubljana. I have worked in primary school for last 15 years. I have been involved with EuroClio since 2015 when I participated in my first Annual Conference in Denmark. Since then I participated in several of EuroClio’s Balkan Summer Schools and of course the Learning to Disagree project. I am also involved in several national educational projects in Slovenia. At the moment, the focus of my work is introducing ICT in history teaching.

27th Annual Conference

This workshop is part of the 27th EuroClio Annual Conference on Controversy and Disagreement in the Classroom. You can find more information on the Annual Conference, including the full programme, on the Annual Conference main page.

Take me to the page…

Workshop Fee

You can register to this single workshop for 15€ , or register to multiple workshops for a reduced fee.

Participation is free for Individual Members, Member Associations, and Ambassadors. Reach out to Djoera at djoera@euroclio.eu to know how to join.

Learning to Disagree

This and many other workshops are based on the Learning Activities and Variety of Viewpoints developed for the Learning to Disagree Project. You can find the Lesson Plan on “People on the Move” on Historiana.

Take me to the Lesson Plan…

 

 

 

27th EuroClio Annual Conference and Professional Development and Training Course

Controversy and Disagreement in the classroom

Update: New dates announced - The Annual Conference will take place online from 31 October to 29 November 2020

Important information: Online registrations with Eventbrite is now closed. You may however still join all sessions of the Annual Conference by signing up as an individual member of EuroClio (available from 20 Euro). See the Join us section for more information.

We are delighted and honoured to present the 27th EuroClio Annual Conference on “Controversy and Disagreement in the Classroom”. The Conference, which is organised in cooperation with UDi, the Serbian History Teachers' Association, and Education for the 21st Century, will take place online, 31 October-29 November 2020. The Conference will incorporate the final training of the Learning to Disagree project.

In a time of growing division, where intolerance creates an “us-versus-them” attitude among social groups, it is essential for students to learn how to deal with controversial subjects, and how to cope with a variety of viewpoints and disagreements. And therefore it is also important that teachers include methods of dialogue, debate and discussion in their lessons, and deal with controversies.

  • Healthy democratic societies are those in which people know how to argue without resorting to harm and violence. Through dialogue, debate and discussion young people can learn to develop listening and speaking skills to argue well. This helps them to become active and responsible democratic citizens.
  • Many countries are experiencing a growing diversity in their classrooms, as societies are growing more diverse. Students should learn how to deal with this diversity of people and plurality of ideas and viewpoints in the world around them.
  • History is always contested, with discussion and debate at its heart. Young people can learn to challenge, explore and test the evidence-base of claims so that they are able to distinguish valid historical interpretations from historical perspectives.
  • Using dialogue, debate and discussion gives students voice. They learn that there are many evidence-based opinions and have the opportunity to participate.
  • Schools are a great place to try these methods outs, as they should be safe learning environments in which young people can test out ideas and explore new thinking, change their views and critically evaluate their own values and attitudes without fear of judgment. At the same time it offers an opportunity to teach them how to respectfully disagree.
  • Dealing with controversial issues provides a good way to directly connect with students’ lives and with the outside world (outside the safe school environment). Ignoring them would mean ignoring the realities in many students’ lives.

The 27th EuroClio Annual Conference will consist of active workshops, panel discussions, interactive sessions, and networking events. During these activities, you will be introduced to the topics of People on the Move, Borders, Surviving under Pressure and Cultural Heritage, and will reflect on how to assess pupils’ social and civil competences through debate, dialogue, and discussion on these topics. In addition, you will be introduced to the new features of the eLearning portal Historiana.eu, especially relating to the eActivity builder.

Contact the organisers! Reach out to us at alice@euroclio.eu.

 

At a glance:

Location Online
Cost Single Session – 15 EUR

Four workshops – 55 EUR

Annual Conference Experience (4 workshops and 4 plenary sessions) – 105 EUR

Participation to the keynote lecture will be free of charge

Participation for Individual Members is free of charge

Duration of the training one
Topics touched upon Migration, borders, freedom of speech, disinformation, human rights, contemporary history, role of debate & discussion, cultural heritage
Eligible for KA1 funding no
Certificate for Participants? YES
Participants expected Approximately 120

Conference Fee

Participation to the Annual Conference is free for all EuroClio Individual Members, as well as for Members of our Member Associations. Reach out to Djoera at djoera@euroclio.eu to know how to join.

If you are not a Member, you can register to single sessions for a fee of 15 EUR, acquire a “four sessions package” for 55 EUR, or register to the full conference (8+ sessions) for 105 EUR.

Dealing with Controversy and Polarisation in the Classroom

Maarten van Alstein, Flemish Peace Institute

Why is it important that we learn to disagree with each other? How can we teach young people to disagree in a democratic and peaceful manner? Starting from concrete cases in classroom practice, the key note lecture will build on empirical research, democratic theory and insights from conflict transformation to make a case for conceptualizing the school as a laboratory for democracy. In this view, the school is seen as a place where students – through a wide diversity of methods ranging from dialogue to artistic practice – can explore their differences in a constructive manner.

The Keynote Lecture will be preceded by words of welcome from Steven Stegers, EuroClio Executive Director

27th Annual Conference

The Keynote Lecture is part of the 27th EuroClio Annual Conference on Controversy and Disagreement in the Classroom. You can find more information on the Annual Conference, including the full programme, on the Annual Conference main page.

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Annual Conference Technology Trial

If you have taken part to online meetings, trainings, and courses in the last period, you might have found yourselves in a familiar situation: the host of the meeting starts with a short introduction of how the software works, and then during the meeting different websites or applications to engage the audience are used, and you are at a loss because you have never seen this obscure website in your life.

To avoid this situation, we have decided to host two sessions, in October, during which we will walk you through the programmes and software that will be used during the Conference. Participation in these sessions will be completely free. The two identical sessions (you don’t need to participate in both!) will take place on Wednesday 21 and 28 October, at 16:30.

Register in advance for this meeting:
https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZYucemtpzgjEtfObzOUQovFrJ8MjbN7QG49

27th Annual Conference

The Technology Trial Sessions are part of the 27th EuroClio Annual Conference on Controversy and Disagreement in the Classroom. You can find more information on the Annual Conference, including the full programme, on the Annual Conference main page.

Take me to the main page…

Annual Conference Technology Trial

If you have taken part to online meetings, trainings, and courses in the last period, you might have found yourselves in a familiar situation: the host of the meeting starts with a short introduction of how the software works, and then during the meeting different websites or applications to engage the audience are used, and you are at a loss because you have never seen this obscure website in your life.

To avoid this situation, we have decided to host two sessions, in October, during which we will walk you through the programmes and software that will be used during the Conference. Participation in these sessions will be completely free. The two identical sessions (you don’t need to participate in both!) will take place on Wednesday 21 and 28 October, at 16:30.

Register in advance for this meeting:
https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZIud-6urj4iG9QAFNXiudtwIq9hA-MmqE7z

27th Annual Conference

The Technology Trial Sessions are part of the 27th EuroClio Annual Conference on Controversy and Disagreement in the Classroom. You can find more information on the Annual Conference, including the full programme, on the Annual Conference main page.

Take me to the main page…

Call for Workshops at the 27th EuroClio Annual Conference

Alice Modena Opportunities

Do you know a teaching method on how to deal with controversies and disagreement in the classroom? Do you teach about People on the Move, Borders, Surviving under Pressure, or (controversial) Cultural Heritage? Then, we invite you to apply to become a workshop host at our upcoming Annual Conference!

We are looking for workshops that are interactive, innovative, and that deal with the conference theme or with the sub-topics. Each workshop should last no more than 90 minutes, and present ready to use teaching methods that participants could apply in their classroom. More information can be found at this link. The deadline for application is Sunday 01 December 2019.

If you have any question on the Call for Workshops, please contact us at alice@euroclio.eu.

If you would like to apply, please fill in the application form below.

Step 1 of 2

Please specify the relation of the workshop to the theme of the conference, as described in the Conference description available on the EuroClio website (Max. 200 words)

Will your workshop present (an) interactive element(s)? If yes, which one?

Controversy and Polarization in European Contexts: Sharing insights from a research meeting in Brussels

Lexi Oudman Articles

One of a teacher’s worst nightmares is when a classroom explodes into a heated argument that gets out of control. This is possible in all contexts and for various reasons; some instances are predicable, while others are completely unexpected. EuroClio has been exploring these issues with the ongoing Learning to Disagree project, with resources available in March 2020.

The Evens Foundation and The Flemish Peace Institute called a research meeting May 23-24 2019 to dig into the difficulties surrounding controversy and polarization. As part of my research traineeship at EuroClio, I was asked to present the Learning to Disagree project and parts of my master’s research at Erasmus University on controversial and sensitive history in a Dutch context. Here I will discuss some of the most important findings from that meeting.

Dealing with Controversy and Polarisation in the classroom

Initiator of the meeting and driven by his role as senior researcher at the Flemish Peace Institute, Maarten Van Alstein, wrote Omgaan met Controversie en Polarisatie in de Klas (Dealing with Controversy and Polarisation in the Classroom). Based on his research in the Flemish educational context, Van Alstein has developed a “scenario based approach” that may help teachers to deal with emotive and sensitive topics in the classroom. He discusses how in Belgium, and across the globe, students are being pulled to more extreme views with more strongly held positions that makes it more difficult to teach or predict when controversy may occur in the classroom. He distinguishes three different scenarios:

Scenario one: “A Classroom in Turmoil” describes a situation where a classroom explodes due to insensitive or inflammatory remarks. In this situation, depending on the teachers and students present in the classroom, a teacher must decide what to do quickly. There are pros and cons to removing a student from the class, cutting-off discussions, encouraging further discussion or probe a student for a particular response. Removing a student from the classroom may cease the undesired comments from the discussion, but it also limits that student’s ability to engage in more perspectives. There may be a fear of allowing a student to remain will only amplify the insensitive or undesired remarks, although probing a student for why they hold a particular viewpoint can allow for debasing their comments. Van Alstein states that in a polarized classroom teachers should aim for the middle, less vocal students by providing arguments based upon reason and evidence. These are the students who do not have cemented beliefs and may potentially be persuaded by the more radical classmates.

Scenario two: “Controversial Topics in the Curriculum” focusses on topics from within the curriculum that are perceived as controversial. Van Alstein highlights that, first, teachers need to estimate if the controversy is an open or a settled controversy. A “settled controversy”, for instance, is evolution, which some students may still consider to be  controversial. Van Alstein encourages teachers to use correct terminology and to avoid presenting topics in absolutist terms. Instead, it is important to allow  students to inquire and learn how to ask disciplinary questions in order to evaluate the topics like a scientist or a historian would. An “open controversy” is a topic that still has unanswered questions within the field. For example, in science classes students may evaluate evidence on effectiveness of different modern vaccines. Dealing with “open controversies” may be more effective for student to engage with once they are accustomed to using the disciplinary methods and weighing viewpoints.

Scenario three: “Controversy as Pedagogy” is where teachers use controversial issues to introduce students to different perspectives and engage students in democratic discussions in the classroom. Prior to using this pedagogy, teachers should plan their goals and preferably have a longer project based time period to work with students. This should be done in an established democratic classroom and it may be better to start with less controversial issues. This way, students would slowly become accustomed to engage with talking about such topics, allowing the classes to be built up to more recent issues or topics closer to their identity. An example from history education could be having students engage in a dialogue or debate on a particular event and look at different historical interpretations. This allows for students to weigh each position and explore why those particular theories may have been held.

In all three scenarios, Van Alstein encourages teachers to use the classroom as a means for democratic engagement by creating a safe classroom with an “open-class climate” in which students and teachers are able to participate in a democratic way. This encourages students to use critical thinking and ask inquiry questions. Such an open class climate can be established if teachers first recognize biases in their own practice and reflect on what their position will be in potential situations. Second, by setting up rules with students to create a democratic, safe classroom. As a teacher, this means some of the classroom authority will shift to students; this encourages self-direction and ownership. Finally, teachers need to help students work through and engage in dialogue around potential controversial or sensitive topics. This may include having students first research or journal their thoughts to ensure a discussion has academic foundation. This may also help students to recognize their own biases and influences of outside narratives.

Expanding into a Broader European Context

The meeting moved forward into each individual or organization sharing their experiences with controversy and polarisation. Participants came from Belgium, Croatia, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain and Sweden. Cross-disciplinary discussions between English, science and history teachers along with teacher trainers. It provided rich discussions and best practices to emerge from each context.

Thea, an English teacher from Croatia, described how her school worked to integrate students from Serbian and Croatian backgrounds. The school provides opportunities for students to participate in classes together, in a school system that allows for segregation based upon language. She explained that students have the choice to join in classes or go on trips with classmates from opposite regional identity. This helps in countering stereotypes that each group has about the other.

Olivier, from France, provided intriguing methods using multi-perspectivity in science classes. France has a rigid prescribed syllabi and he has found ways to engage with using the content as controversy, or in Van Alstein’s terms “controversy as pedagogy.” He provided the example of having students research the Human Papilloma Virus vaccine, which is an open controversy with no firm scientific conclusions. Each student group had to present, with evidence, on their recommendations for the vaccine. In one class, three groups, reading the same evidence provided three different answers—one said to get vaccinated, one said do not get vaccinated and the third group said they did not know what to do. The teachers do not force students to select an answer, rather, provide the evidence and allow for students to choose for themselves what they want to believe.

Representatives from Poland and Barcelona discussed the difficulties that teachers, NGOs, and educational professionals are facing in these contexts. In Poland, the discourse is quite bleak around education, with the government vilifying teachers after the month long teacher’s strike. In Barcelona, some teachers are facing the risk of prosecution for discussing the 2017 Catalan conflict after the unsanctioned independence referendum. In both scenarios there is increased fear from teachers and significant blocks for engaging in controversy or polarization in their classrooms.

Despite push back from government and communities there are teachers who encourage students to engage with difficult topics in these contexts. They have created Good Conversation Clubs, Forum Theatre’s and encouraged students to engage with social campaigns. These groups are reaching out to engage with the whole community to initiate whole community change to help restore the loss of trust between teachers and the community. There also is hope in the amount of students that are voluntary participating.

I have done integrated research for my master’s degree and EuroClio. My Master’s research centres on how international school teachers in the Netherlands deal with sensitive and controversial history. I used research and literature to help write a working document for EuroClio on what factors teachers need to consider prior to engaging with sensitive or controversial history. I will share these results via another article that will be published later. EuroClio is working to develop further resources with the Learning to Disagree Project with the March 31 to April 4 2020 annual conference centred on this topic.

Discussions raised question for how controversy and polarization appear in broader European contexts with each organization presenting individuals initiatives and plans. Each country has unique challenges. Despite all of the differences, there are similarities in the ways to go about engaging in difficult conversations or innovative methods using multiperspectivey. The most hopeful result of all is that there are organisations and individuals that are stepping up to the challenges of controversy and polarization in education.

Written By Lexi Oudman, Former Euroclio Trainee