EUROCLIO Annual Conference 2019: warming up!

Catalina Gaete EUROCLIO , ,

It’s already mid-February, and together with spring, the main event of our organization is approaching rapidly. Since last year, EUROCLIO has been working on its Annual Conference 2019, which as every year is gathering history educators from all over Europe and beyond to learn and debate about the latest developments in the field. This year, our Annual Conference will take place on April 4 to 7, and it will take us to Gdańsk, Poland, which stands as the perfect setting to learn about our conference’s theme: Bringing History to Life!

This year, we aim at addressing one of the main challenges that teachers are facing on a daily basis, particularly in terms of sparking students’ interest in learning history. How do teachers achieve this goal? We believe that one of the best strategies would be to bring history to life, by looking at the impact of big events in people’s daily life, or by connecting historical events to current affairs.

We are organizing interesting workshops, panel presentations and keynote speakers from renowned and experienced history educators, who will share with us their methods, reflections and techniques to bring history to life. Besides, in order to enhance the impact of this knowledge, we are preparing a bunch of cultural activities that will help us to learn a bit more about Poland and Gdańsk, which were the scenery for many of the XX century’s main historical events.

Sightseeing and movies

The arrival day at glance. Annual Conference 2019 programme.

Additionally to the variety of cultural activities planned for the four days of conference, we organized a field trip and a movie screening for April 3, the arrival day for most of the participants.

For all the colleagues arriving to Poland during the morning of Wednesday April 3, a field trip to Westerplatte is prepared at 15.00. Westerplatte is a peninsula in Gdańsk, located on the Baltic Sea coast mouth of the Dead Vistula (one of the Vistula delta estuaries), in the Gdańsk harbor channel. From 1926 to 1939 it was the location of a Polish Military Transit Depot (WST), sanctioned within the territory of the Free City of Danzig (now Gdańsk). It is famous for the Battle of Westerplatte, which was the first clash between Polish and German forces during the invasion of Poland and thus the first battle of the European theater of World War II. Therefore, this trip will be a privilege for early birds!

But for those that cannot make it during the morning, a movie screening is scheduled for the evening of the same day. “Warsaw Uprising” is a movie created in 2014 to celebrate the 70 years anniversary of the Warsaw Uprising. The movie is exclusively composed of original footage from 1944, which has been digitally colored. The use of colored images has the purpose of making the footage more appealing for a young public, who might be more motivated in approaching this milestone in Polish history. The screening will be preceded by a small introduction and contextualization, and followed by a discussion on historical truths and how to approach different narrations of the same event.

If you want to participate from these activities, send an email to Alice Modena, project manager at the EUROCLIO Secretariat, to alice@euroclio.eu, by March 15.

You are kindly invited to keep connected to our channels, website and social media, where more updates will be informed. Do not miss this opportunity of being part of the EUROCLIO community!


Training trainers: the successful experience of boosting up history education in Lebanon

Catalina Gaete Association ,

For those working in history education, the difficulties of bringing history at the foreground of public debate are not new. History does not seem to be a priority for wider portions of society, and therefore, those who work in the field are forced to be more fervent and passionate to advocate for it. This is the story of one of those advocators, whose answer to inertia is never lethargy but rather action. Nayla Hamadeh, from the Lebanese Association for History (LAH), shares with us their efforts to promote a significant reform in Lebanese history education, which first step is to train… the trainers.

How to bring up history at the forefront of educational concerns and reforms? This is the question that the Lebanese Association for History (LAH) has being trying to answer since 2013. Founded by a group of educators, history teachers, and activists, LAH advocates for historical scientific enquiry, continuous learning, and critical thinking. Within these aims, the professional development of Lebanese historians has been among their main goals, especially due to the curricular deadlock that came during the post war period.

Nayla Khodr Hamadeh is the current president of the Lebanese Association for History. Involved long before in professional development, even as a trainer herself at the International College (IC) in Beirut, Nayla has explored Lebanese history education from within, achieving great understanding of its most urgent problems and concerns. “After several trials in the post war period, successive governments have failed to issue a new curriculum intended to ‘unify the Lebanese’ around a common narrative.  This has resulted in the marginalization of history as a subject. History teachers were hardly receiving any training in the last three decades”, Nayla says.

Due to this grim panorama, where the needs for professional development of public schools’ history teachers were almost unknown, in 2018 LAH started working with the Center for Educational Research and Development (CERD), the body in charge of public training in Lebanon. “In an effort to start preparing the grounds for a new curriculum, the CERD had already appointed a number of history teachers to act as trainers of history teachers”, Nayla said, describing the emergence of an opportunity to get involved. In this scenario, LAH proposed an innovative programme aimed at providing training to their team of trainers, pointing at the need of well-prepared professionals for the new curriculum to be issued.

“To map their needs, we conducted an online survey to which 116 teachers responded. The majority of public schools’ teachers indicated that they had not received any form of training and that they are interested in introducing new ways to their teaching”, Nayla describes. With this imperative task in mind, LAH and CERD started to work together in a training programme involving three workshops and mentoring sessions. The activities aimed at addressing pedagogy strategies, curriculum design, needs assessment and building learning communities. “It culminates in the design of a training program for all teachers”, Nayla says, pointing at the final goal of this initiative, which is to form “a team of trainers equipped with skills and knowledge needed to design and manage an impactful training program for all teachers leading to change in history classrooms. This, of course, is a long process. LAH’s initiative aims at starting this process”.

The first phase of this joined effort will end up in January 2019, to then open up the second phase, where the ‘trainees’ will implement their own training sessions. “The challenge is to ensure that the teachers start implementing this in their classrooms”, Nayla said, describing the difficulties of intervening working cultures that are resistant to change. Finally, Nayla explained that the work developed by LAH is an ongoing and permanently open process, because the main goal it’s not only introduce learning strategies, but also “build historical thinking, openness and respect of others”.

If you want to follow up the work developed by LAH in Lebanon, and learn from their experience training history teachers’ trainers, you can check out their website (in English and Arabic) https://lahlebanon.org/

Successful training in Spain: sharing methods to teach about Europe and the European Union

As part of the Decisions and Dilemmas 3: making learning about the EU motivating and meaningful project, the fourth national training event was held on the 8th and 9th of June 2018 in Madrid (Spain) and bore the title “Using new methodologies to teach Europe: This is not about treaties!”.

The event was organized by the Teacher Training and Innovation Department of the Autonomous Community of Madrid (Dirección General de Becas y Ayudas al Estudio, Subdirección General de Formación del Profesorado) and the Spanish Association of History and Geography Teachers. It revolved around debates and workshops that involved an active and participatory methodology in which the participating teachers and trainers exchanged their reflections and points of views about how to teach about Europe in a meaningful and motivating way.

The program opened on Friday with an official greeting from the Head of the Teacher Training and Innovation Department of the Autonomous Community of Madrid, Mr. Vicente Alcañiz, who highlighted the importance of history teachers in creating a multiperspective and inclusive historical narrative that allows students to understand the past and the present. Moreover, it helps students develop certain competencies and skills to exercise their European citizenship in a responsible and active way. Ms. María Jesús Campos, the national project coordinator, presented the project to the participants and introduced Ms. Concha Brea, deputy of the European Documentation Center in Madrid. Ms. Brea presented the activities developed in the Center, the materials they create, and finally their webpage, which is a very useful resource for teachers and European citizens, and which also presents updated news on the European Union. Furthermore, she introduced Team Madrid-Europe, a group of experts that give talks about the European Union to students from a non-teaching perspective. One of its members, Mr. Ignacio Velo, gave an example of the methodology they use.

 

Closing the first day of activities were Mr. Alfredo Lopez, chair of the Spanish Federation of History Teachers, Ms. Isabel García-Velasco, chair of the Association of History Teachers of the Autonomous Community of Madrid, and Cristina Luz García, treasurer of the Association. They presented the respective organizations to the participants and discussed the importance for teachers to have a common space to share good practices and to reflect on their own teaching practice.

The following day, Saturday 9th of June, the location of the event was the Centre for Innovation and Training Madrid-Capital. The day kicked off with Ms. María Jesús Campos, a history teacher and national project coordinator, who presented the results of the research report on “Teaching Europe to enhance EU cohesion”. By means of an active workshop, the participants reflected on the ways teachers currently teach Europe and on the materials used in the classroom, while establishing comparisons with the results from the “Teaching Europe” research. This activity gave the framework for the rest of the event, in which the materials developed in the “Decisions and Dilemmas” project were going to be experienced.

The first workshop based on materials from Historiana was held by Mr. Guillermo Balmori, a history teacher in Ntra. Sra. de las Escuelas Pías (Madrid) on “The challenge of European stability”. Participating teachers experienced the materials and reflected on how to implement them in the classroom using a new approach that brings the past to the present and allows students to think critically about their world and how it is created.

The second workshop was given by Mr. Marino Maqueda, a history teacher in IES Cervantes (Madrid) and also EUROCLIO’s international trainer. This workshop focussed on “Life and Leisure: the history of ordinary people – I was a soldier in the German army – How did WW2 affect the life of an ordinary teenage boy?”. This unit deals with the repercussions of violent conflicts in ordinary people’s lives and focusses on the case-study of Igor Slavec. To make it more meaningful for Spanish teachers, the workshop addressed the life story of Tomás Fidalgo Marzagón in the context of the Spanish Civil War. This material can also be found on Historiana’s “Changing Europe” unit. Comparing Igor Slavec’s and Tomás Fidalgo’s stories, participants were able to find out similarities in how different conflicts have negative repercussions on the people affected by them.

 

Mr. Edgar Berzins, EUROCLIO’s international trainer and history teacher at Upitis Skrivery Secondary School in Latvia, conducted the third workshop on “The European Union and trade in the global context – How does European trade policy affect African chicken farmers?”. This unit deals with the consequences of EU trade policies and the moral and ethical issues connected to it. Having a Latvian teacher enriched the event, as Mr. Berzins gave an additional short talk to explain participants the path followed by Latvia to become a member of the EU, and which challenges the country is currently facing.

During lunch, participant teachers and trainers had the opportunity to engage in informal talks to get to know each other, share their impressions about their teaching practices and the materials they were using, and create networks to establish future collaborations.

In the afternoon, a plenary session was organized on “European Programs: Opening your classroom to Europe”. Ms. María Ángeles Heras from the Teacher Training and Innovation Department explained how to participate in programmes such as Erasmus+ and eTwinning, and highlighted the advantages for schools when participating in such international exchanges and environments.

Then, Luis Horrillo, Vice-Chairman of the Spanish Association of History Teachers, introduced Historiana. Participating teachers discovered the resources and materials on display and how these materials can be downloaded and modified in order to adapt to the student’s needs. They were also familiarized with the possibilities the page offers to create and share e-Learning activities.

The final plenary session consisted of a debate among trainers and participants with the aim of evaluating the two-day event and the information and materials presented. The feedback was very positive, as the participants praised the organization of the event, as well as the methodology and materials developed through EUROCLIO’s “Decisions and Dilemmas” project. All of the participants highlighted the presented new approach to the study of the European Union as very useful to transform this community of countries and peoples in something real and meaningful for students, and to develop competencies, skills, and self-perceptions that allow students to feel as European citizens and further develop their European citizenship actively and responsibly.

 Moreover, the event was praised because it created a meeting place for teachers from all over Spain who usually do not have the opportunity to share impressions and create networks with teachers outside of their regions.

The Teacher Training and Innovation Department of the Autonomous Community of Madrid in collaboration with the Spanish Association of History and Geography Teachers and the Association of Madrid, considers the event a success as it has delivered Spanish teachers a new approach and methodology to teach and learn about the European Union, has provided a meeting point for teachers to reflect on their teaching practices and to think clearly about the history curriculum and the materials used to deliver it, and has fostered the creation of networks among Spanish history teachers.

This article is based on the report written by history teacher and national project coordinator María Jesús Campos, and the pictures were taken by Paz Jorge.

Guidebook to Education and Training in the EU published by Lifelong Learning Platform

European integration appears sometimes technocratic, in the hands of distant institutions, which are asked to manage macroeconomic policies which benefits are not always immediately clear to the general public. Lifelong Learning Platform‘s Guidebook to Education and Training hopes to be a concrete tool to empower educators and learners over Europe to have their say in their future. This 2015 version will be regularly updated for stakeholders to constantly stay in touch with each other.