A reflection on teaching and learning at the EU level by Joke van der Leeuw-Roord

Joke Van der Leeuw-Roord Articles ,

Common Values and Inclusion with EU Member States

History, heritage and citizenship were regularly breaking news in this year’s summer months. We saw media images of removing historical sensitive statues, demonstrations related to the Black Lives Matter Movement and big outcries due to the murder of history and geography teacher Samuel Paty in France. In the Netherlands, an educator teaching about the freedom of expression had to go into hiding because he was threatened over a cartoon that had been on display in the classroom for five years already. The deep emotions present during these events illustrated the fact that history is not only the past, it permeates the present and even the future. These emotions made us again aware of how pride and pain are strong elements when addressing the past. They also gave evidence that we need inspiring answers on the question of how to address sensitive, inclusive and multiperspective history in classrooms. Finally, these emotional events also demonstrated the need for intercultural dialogue when we experience colliding value systems and extremism. 

On 12 February 2015 the members of the European Council requested action after the wave of violence in France and Denmark. With a Declaration on Promoting Citizenship and the Common Values of Freedom, Tolerance and Non-discrimination through Education the Members of the Council stressed their special duty to ensure that the humanist and civic values we share are safeguarded and passed on to future generations. They stated that they remained united in our efforts to promote freedom of thought and expression, social inclusion and respect for others, as well as to prevent and tackle discrimination in all its forms.  In order to achieve these goals, they called for renewed efforts to reinforce the teaching and acceptance of these common fundamental values and laying the foundations for more inclusive societies through education

The Commissioner for Education created a Working Group within the European Training 2020 framework as a follow up of this declaration. The Working Group Promoting Common Values and Inclusive Education was asked to assess how social, civic and intercultural competences, critical thinking and media literacy, and social inclusion, non-discrimination and active citizenship are or can be applied in topics such as uses and abuses of (modern) media, inclusion of young refugees and migrants through education and also history education. The Lifelong Learning Platform in Brussels asked me to join the group on their behalf.

One of the outcomes of the working group are three thematic orientation documents produced by the members of the ET 2020 Working Group on the above mentioned topics. A fourth text about LGBTI inclusion in education can be expected by the end of the year.

I was made responsible for the theme Building Bridges through Inclusive and Cross-border History Education. It contains an overall sketch on current issues related to the subject required for a sound and innovative approach to history (and citizenship and heritage) education. It further contains recommendations from the Working Group Members and a series of inspiring practices, predominately by Intergovernmental Organisations and Civil Society Associations and organisations. The publication contains a collection of appropriate references and links. More inspirational practice related to this topic will be available through an online Compendium, which will be available by the end of the year. Needless to say is that a good variety of EuroClio projects are included.

The outcomes of the Working Group demonstrate the relevance of the issues discussed, particularly in the light of the emotional events mentioned, so evidently related to history, heritage and citizenship education. In my introductory text (p.6) of the so called fiche, I argue that historical narratives are always hotly debated in societies, and find their reflection in history education. These recent experiences were therefore not unique, they just topically exemplified this reality. The reflections and observations of the participants of the Working Group demonstrate that the members during the working sessions realized which challenges could play in the background of such emotions and hot debates.

In the reflections of the Members we read that it is indeed vital explaining why it is important to be inclusive in history education, as minority communities and migrants are often not included in a country’s history.  They recognize that one could fear for radicalization or extremism if such perspectives are not included. Minority and migrant communities could feel left out if history only focuses on the dominant national community. And finally that it was vital to create a dialogue among and with students

Among the Working Group recommendations for history curricula, we can read that it is essential to ensure a multi-perspective and inclusive approach to history education, including various ethnic, linguistic and religious communities in new history curricula, in order to avoid any undue bias or discrimination, that it is important while teaching national history to recognize its impact on other countries and therefore to widen the perspective beyond the national viewpoint and that history teaching must allow time for discussion, and such debates should allow both positive and negative considerations.    

The recommendations with focus on teachers, state that teachers should be aware of the diversity in their classrooms and recognise that young people from diverse origins bring different memories, values and cultures and that there is a need for high-quality initial teacher education and continuous professional development, supporting teachers’ capacities to address controversial and sensitive issues in the classroom. 

The educational authorities are required in the recommendations that existing teaching aids, providing guidance on addressing controversial issues in the classroom, should be made widely available and that they should find pathways to involve families to make them aware of the different perspectives to key historical events and support a process of developing history culture in the family.

The members of the Working Group also warned of conflicts between different subjects such as history, social studies and civics teachers, all claiming to be the prime actor in value-based education as in fact all such subjects integrate human rights and democracy in their curricula

On 18 November the Working Group had its final-online-session, where I could present the concluding results of its work on history education. It was clear that the challenges, which were identified by the members, were indeed the issues at stake in our societies. I also concluded, however, that identifying these issues would not be enough and that prolonged attention and concerted action is required. 

I therefore added two personal recommendations. I asked the Commission for keeping the topic of value-based inclusive and cross-border history, citizenship and heritage education also as a prominent feature within the next circle of Working Groups. This is, unfortunately, not at all clear. In the Communication on Achieving the European Education Area by 2025, we can find good wordings about fundamental freedoms, tolerance and non-discrimination through education, inclusive education, and active and responsible citizenship. However, in the two out of six focus areas relevant for the history, heritage and citizenship community (inclusion and gender and teachers and trainers), there is a strong emphasis on capacity building addressing deficiencies in skills. The need for bringing a European perspective in education mirrors some of the reflections in the Working Group when it specifies that this topic shall provide learners with an insight in what Europe at large and the Union in particular means in their daily life. This European perspective should be addressed in a dynamic and plural way, encouraging the development of critical thinking (p. 7). But unfortunately these wordings hardly reflect the real challenges in the learning and teaching of history as they were identified by the Working Group.

My second recommendation was for the Members of the meeting of 18 November, representing different national Ministries of Education. I asked them to keep implementing value-based inclusive and cross-border history, citizenship and heritage education in their schools through curricula, teaching resources and adequate professional development of aspiring and practicing teachers. In fact, the inspiring practices on history, heritage and citizenship education, presented during events of the Working Group sessions rarely came from the national ministries of education. Most representatives of these Ministries were nevertheless positively interested, leading to a good working atmosphere. The extent to which the common ideas will be implemented remains an open question, however. Unfortunately, there is no clear tool developed to measure the impact of the Working Groups common work on the policies related to common values and inclusion in individual countries. We can only hope that working together for more than four years increased the awareness of the national educational authorities across Europe.

This final Working Group meeting ended my active involvement in education policies of the European Union. This is a complex system as the Member States keep their individual responsibilities towards education, with common policies only possible via open methods for coordination, such as the kind of policy learning done through Working Groups. I became involved in the early 1990s, when the European Dimension was a key element in policy making. It was easy to make contact with European bureaucrats and discuss possible ideas. Slowly the European Dimension disappeared and project funding became dominant. I was happy to have good EuroClio Secretariat Staff Members, able to obtain projects and later, when it became possible, to obtain operating grants. In my last active EuroClio years I became more and more involved in EU Working Groups and became a member of the Steering Group, later Secretary General, of the Lifelong Learning Platform in Brussels. This last position allowed me to become a real insider in the benefits and downsides of EU policy making. 

I now look back at almost thirty years of European education programmes, always deeply influenced by events or currents in society. I have often participated with some level of frustration, due to its slowness and lack of understanding of what were the real issues at stake. Despite everything, they were nonetheless rewarding years giving many opportunities to the history, heritage and citizenship community. I will miss it, but it is time for me to go.

 

Joke van der Leeuw-Roord in 2015 at the Europeana Network Association Annual General Meeting in Amsterdam.

Joke van der Leeuw-Roord founded EuroClio in 1992, and since then she has acquired recognition as an international expert on innovative and trans-national history, heritage and citizenship education. Currently, Joke van der Leeuw-Roord is special advisor for EuroClio. She has initiated and coordinated a multitude of national, trans-national capacity building projects for history and citizenship educators and historians in Albania, Belarus, Bulgaria, Bosnia-in-Herzegovina, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Georgia, Latvia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Romania, Russia, Serbia Turkey and Ukraine.

Public Consultation on Europeana

EuroClio Opportunities, Partners ,

The European Commission has launched a public consultation to hear opinions from culture, education, research and creative sectors, as well as citizens from across Members States regarding Europeana. The Commission would particularly like to hear the experiences and expectations of those who have already used (or could benefit from using) Europeana as a platform for sharing or re-using cultural heritage material. EuroClio would thus like to extend the opportunity the wide network of committed educators, researchers, and others in the field of culture, in order to get the most relevant feedback.

The Europeana Foundation is committed to facilitating and promoting access to digital cultural heritage for a variety of audiences and users, including those in the education sphere. The wide access to open-source material provided through the Europeana website can prove invaluable to educators, students, and interested members of the public. The Europeana Collections site provides a platform through which access to a to over 53 million items, (including image, text, sound, video and 3D material) from the collections of over 3,700 libraries, archives, museums, galleries and audio-visual collections across Europe is facilitated in a simple and user-friendly manner.

EuroClio and Europeana thus complement each other through the former’s focus on promoting innovative and responsible history education, and the latter’s facilitation of access to digital heritage resources. The relationship between the two organisations looks to contribute to the free and open-access availability of materials for history education, ultimately allowing for the promotion of a more multi-perspective and innovative approach to teaching and learning about the past. The two organisations have worked closely together in the past and continue to collaborate on projects to optimise their relationship and shared goals. This includes the development of Historiana – a resource for the creation and sharing of open, cross-border educational resources which was recently awarded as the best practice in Innovative and Educational Pedagogy at the 2017 Lifelong Learning Awards.

EuroClio is thus appealing to the wide range of educators and researchers we work with to respond to this consultation (available in all EU languages) before the 14th of January 2018 in order to contribute to the future development of Europeana. The more input from those “on the ground” so to speak, using the materials and resources in an everyday context, the more likely it is that Europeana can continue to develop as a user-friendly and fit-for-purpose mechanism, and so it would be of great use if you could also share the link among your network with anyone you think would be interested in sharing their opinion.

New Eurydice Report: Citizenship Education at School in Europe – 2017

EuroClio Uncategorized ,

There has been a strong focus in recent years on the promotion of citizenship education, as a result of the increasing threats to fundamental values such as peace, equality and human rights Europe is faced with, and several countries are making changes to their policies in this area. But what is citizenship education? How is it taught? How are students evaluated? Can citizenship skills be developed outside the classroom? What training and support do teachers receive?

Eurydice’s new Citizenship Education at School in Europe – 2017 report tackles these questions and more, providing an overview of the existing regulations and recommendations regarding citizenship education in public sector schools. It outlines the state of play on four main topics, each of which is complemented by a case study:

 

  • Curriculum Organisation and Content
  • Teaching, Learning and Active Participation
  • Student Assessment and School Evaluation
  • Teacher Education, Professional Development and Support

 

The full report can be found here.

New Narrative for Europe

By Stefan Haagendoorn

On the 12th and 13th of October, I was in Leuven, Belgium to partake in a youth event organized by the European Commission, which was focused on the question on how to form a New Narrative for Europe. As a historian, many questions immediately come to mind. What makes a narrative? Can we talk about just one narrative or are there as many narratives as there are Europeans? Or even; can we just create a narrative like that, and when is the group deciding this, representative enough?

In other words, it was bound to be a discussion-laden two days. The main set-up was as follows. Gather a large bunch of young Europeans in a big room and let them discuss around four main questions interspersed with seminars and presentations. The idea was good, but given the strongly varied background of the participants, some guidance was needed. As such, the whole event was centred on 4 main questions, namely ‘’becoming united in diversity’’, ‘’employment and education’’, ‘’freedom of movement’’ and the ‘’changing climate’’. One can question whether taking these four topics is preventing an open discussion. In hindsight, I would argue that it made sure the arguments stayed on track. After reflecting on the most important issues within each of the 4 main topics, and thereby gathering our thoughts, we were asked to focus further. This was to be on no more than three ideas in total, per main question. This resulted in essentially 12 broad topics in total, which we more or less democratically decided upon to be the most critical. This caused some heated arguments, but we eventually managed.

What followed next was the fun part. In a small group of about three to four, we worked on our chosen sub-topic in order to form a narrative. The idea here was to create a newspaper front-page of about 20 years into the future, with associated headlines, pictures and text. This was to be based on the results of our group discussion. The topic I decided to partake in was centred on ‘’a common European identity through education and history’’. A contentious issue, to be sure. To give it a frame to work with, several questions were posed to us as a group, on how to form this narrative. These included: ‘’what are the actions that should be taken?’’, ‘’what are the steps required to achieve this New Narrative?’’ and ‘’who should take these actions and when?’’.

In the end, the result might be considered by some to be unsatisfactory. There was no real New Narrative, rather a list of hopes and dreams, focused on changing policy, not the people tweet about or tell each other over a drink. However positive this may be and however hopeful it may feel to collect a large group of diverse Europeans into one room, all starry-eyed about the future, it does not solve any real issues. Some uncomfortable questions were posed, mostly at the very end of the conference, such as ‘’how do we reach those Europeans that are not self-motivated to engage with it?’’ A comparison was made between a ‘’funny cat-video’’ getting a million views within the hour and Juncker’s State of the European Union address not getting any further than a few thousand. The EU and its leaders, it seems, are just not appealing. The heart of the matter here was not discussed. Other politicians (Obama, Macron, even Trump in his own way) manage to reach millions through savvy social media campaigns and appeal, at least in part, to the youth. So why not Europe? Another argument against the near-utopian narrative is its inherent tendency to always go forward. Forward sounds good and positive. But what if the best course of action (for example because the current political situation does not allow for steps towards further integration) might be a step sideways, or even backwards? This was not a popular view. Connected to this is the issue of developing something that only those that are already in the ‘’bubble’’ can identify with. How do you speak to youngsters from a Eurosceptic background? They are not going to be attracted to the same ideals as pro-EU youth are.

Notes from the meeting (picture by Stefan Haagendoorn)

As such, all the great ideas offered might then eventually be in vain. To finish off the program was a member of the European Parliament. He brought what we lacked as a group, namely an actual narrative. In short, the narrative has been, since the end of the Second World War, a negative themed narrative under the guise of ‘’never again’’. This obviously appeals less to the youth of today. As such, he proposed a positive spin, in a sense. This was that Europe is, in fact, alone. The United States for example, though still connected through shared institutions such as NATO, is seemingly carving path away from Europe. Obama had its pivot towards Asia, Trump is doing his own thing altogether. There is no other region anywhere else in the world that can then truly be called a reliable friend. This makes Europe our home and our only one at that. This should invoke a level of solidarity, which can be seen in sharing responsibility and deepening ties.

In the end, it might seem that such an exercise as this was futile. But one can’t deny the positivity that was there in the room. The last question that remains is then: ‘’where do we go from here?’’ Though some ideas were offered in the spirit of bringing this group back together at some indeterminate point in the future, I remain doubtful of that being useful. I would see more use in bringing together various other groups first (thereby making sure to try and attract those from conservative and Eurosceptic backgrounds), and then perhaps picking representatives from each of the groups to go even deeper. More serious personal contact with policy makers in both national and European governments would be another point. That more work, much more, is needed remains abundantly clear.

European Commission Colloquium Underlines the Importance of Education

A Way to Prevent Violent Radicalisation

On May 26 a colloquium was held in Brussels on “Promoting Inclusion and Fundamental Values through Education. The objectives of the Colloquium were to take stock of progress since the adoption of the Paris Declaration at EU, national, regional and local level. During the colloquium to showcase some innovative and inspiring practices and to contribute to key policy messages to support further the implementation of the Paris Declaration on promoting citizenship and the common values of freedom, tolerance and non-discrimination through education. In short, this declaration calls for the mobilisation of the education sector at European, national, regional and local level on the following four objectives:

  1. Ensuring young people acquire social, civic and intercultural competences, by promoting democratic values and fundamental rights, social inclusion and non-discrimination, as well as active citizenship
  2. Enhancing critical thinking and media literacy, particularly in the use of the Internet and social media, so as to develop resistance to of discrimination and indoctrination
  3. Fostering the education of disadvantaged children and young people, by ensuring that our education and training systems address their needs
  4. Promoting intercultural dialogue through all forms of learning in cooperation with other relevant policies and stakeholders

The declaration was adopted in March 2015 and considering the events occurring worldwide, there is an urgent need to accelerate actions on the ground, while seeking long term solutions that focus on strengthening the role of education in fostering inclusion and promoting fundamental values.

EuroClio ambassador Sylvia Semmet attended the academic conference in Brussels. She listened, with much interest, to the speakers there. According to Tibor Navracsics, European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, “we need to defend our values”. He stressed the importance of linking “the European to the local”. Barry van Driel, Secretary General of the International Association for Intercultural Education, and International Director for Teacher Training and Curriculum Development at the Anne Frank House, linked this to the classroom, encouraging teachers to address political aspects. He also highly promoted the professionalisation of teachers. According to him EuroClio stands as a good player in the field and as one to provide good practice.

Critical thinking and media literacy play important roles in promoting inclusion and fundamental values. Thomas Myrup Kristensen, Managing Director for EU Affairs and Head of Facebook’s Brussels office, promoted digital literacy as a core issue and stressed that Facebook was looking for partners from civil society  to promote this. In the closing remarks, Martine Reicherts, Director-General for Education and Culture, European Commission, put the focus on “collaboration as the key“.

For more information about the colloquium or video’s of the speakers, you can read the Background Note or the Leaflet below, or go to the official webpage of the European Commission.

Member Project “Historija, istorija povijest”: Teacher Training in Zagreb

Reconciliation through dialogue in a shared past

From 17-21 February this year a training of future trainers as a part of the project "Historija, Istorija, Povijest (HIP) - Lessons for Today" (2015 - 2017) was organised in Zagreb. The project, which is funded by the European Commission, intends to raise attention and encourage discussion about the events of the recent past of the Western Balkans, which are the cause of various divisions and generating conflicts in the last century. Fifty future trainers from Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia and Macedonia took part in multiple lectures and workshops. The objectives of the project HIP are to research and launch discussions on Former Yugoslavia, to promote critical thinking and to encourage creative thinking about how to educate the common past and promote tolerance. By promoting critical thinking about the events of history and their importance in modern time and events, the Anne Frank House and partners aim to achieve reconciliation through dialogue in a shared past. The methodological approach that will be used includes a combination of formal and informal education and through this interdisciplinary, pluralistic education History submitted by teachers and students. A key element in the project is the creation of long-lasting, high-quality, interactive educational materials on history that will inspire future generations of teachers and students. The Croatian Education and Development Network for the Evolution of Communication (HERMES) is one of the partners in the project and Igor Jovanović had the chance to give a presentation about EuroClio as an association and its work. He highlighted the EuroClio's textbook "Once Upon a Time... We Lived Together" created during the "History That Connects" project. You can find the publication on our website as well.  Other partners are the Anne Frank House (the Netherlands), Youth Initiative for Human Rights (Bosnia and Herzegovina), Youth Educational Forum (Macedonia), Humanity in Action (Bosnia and Herzegovina) and Open Communication.

Historija, istorija povijest

Speakers and workshop leaders at the seminar were: Tvrtko Pater - Introduction to the traveling exhibition Anne Frank - A History for the Present and an Introduction to Memory Walk methodology), Almir Alić - Lecture on the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, Miljenko Hajdarović - Time line of Yugoslavia, Jelena Došlov - Study of Totalitarianism, Vesna Ivezić - Football Arena as the site of expression of nationalism, Bojan Golubović - When you say URBAN do you have any prejudice?, Ida Ljubić - Brotherhood and unity at the table? Yugoslav cookbooks and cooking textbooks, Branislav Toder - Social crisis and the defeat of Yugoslavia - breaking of the common state, Smilja Mrdja - Multiperspectivity in the processing of sensitive content in the teaching of history in the case of Goli Otok, Igor Jovanović - Presentation of EuroClio Association, Tihana Magaš - Presentation of the project "Traces of the past at the door of the present ", presented the materials to teach developed during the project - "Cards for teaching: "Timeline of Yugoslavia" and introduced a manual with 8 curricula (International Criminal Court, Timeline of Yugoslavia, Nationalism and football, Brotherhood and Unity at the table, Study of totalitarianism, Urban=without prejudice?, Social crisis and the defeat of Yugoslavia, Goli otok).

 

 

What’s the future for digital learning?

MEDIA & LEARNING Conference 2016   | 

10 — 11 MARCH 2016   |

This year’s Media & Learning Conference will be held in Brussels next week! The Conference is organised by the Media & Learning Association, the Flemish Ministry of Education and Training and the European Commission. Digital and media literacy skills are becoming more important in all levels of education and training, but also in the European workforce. However, more stakeholders need to be convinced of this fact.The aim is to draw practitioners, researchers and policy makers who want to contribute to the development of digital and media skills in education and find new and effective ways to use media in the learning process. Our own Programme Director, Steven Stegers will be one of the speakers! He will talk about EuroClio’s experience with digital learning using different tools in multiple projects.

For more information or to register please go to this website.