Teaching history through the lens of football

International Day of Education: Celebrating with football history

The United Nations General Assembly has proclaimed January 24th as International Day of Education, in celebration of the role of education for peace and development and highlighting how inclusive and equitable quality education and lifelong opportunities should be available for all.

EuroClio’s own Football Makes History project keeps inclusive education at the forefront, aiming to help young people explore European history and heritage through the lens of football to tackle social exclusion. We look at issues of racism, gender & sexism, homophobia, migration, poverty & inequality, nationalism, war & peace – all through the lens of the world’s most popular game!

Our project – financed through the Erasmus+ scheme of the European Union –  is now entering its final stages and we are publishing educational resources on a weekly basis. We’d like to seize the opportunity of the International Day of Education to showcase some of the ways our project can benefit you as an educator to teach an inclusive history.

The ready-made and transferable learning activities on European football history are designed to help tackle rising intolerance and engage students in critical thinking. Among others you’ll find lesson plans exploring nationalism and the links to armed conflicts, borders and national identities,  football and identity markers, and economic inequalities – with many more to come!

In addition to these full-fledged lessons plans, we have also added another feature useful to the educator: The Football Lives. These profiles are not your usual hall of fame. While some football lives are heroic and have paved the way for inclusion, democracy and human rights, others have done just the opposite. Take for instance the journey of Alex Villaplane who went from sporting hero, captaining France at the 1930 World Cup, to being executed by firing squad as a war criminal and collaborator with the Nazi occupier in 1994! A traitor to some can of course also be a hero to others. One such figure is Jörg Berger whose footballing career stalled after he refused to sign up as an informer for the East German secret police, Stasi, before later escaping to the West. While celebrating great footballers with interesting backgrounds (hello Zlatan, Maradona, Rapinoe and Özil!), our life stories also point to some of the darker sides of football and football history. Robert Enke committed suicide after years of suffering from depression. Was football partly at fault?

A common feature of all these Football Lives is that they tell a wider story that could feature as part of a history lesson. To help you as an educator, we have included a few “thinking points” to each story.

Have you already used (or plan to use!) some of our lesson plans or life stories in your teaching practice? If so, we’d love to hear from you! (please get in touch with Andreas Holtberget at andreas@euroclio.eu!)

We finally invite you to follow our Football Makes History accounts on social media to get the latest of both news and educational material. Stay tuned also for a number of professional development opportunities that will take place online or on site in the Netherlands, Germany, Romania and the UK this coming Spring. EuroClio’s own webinar series on football history will kick off 28th May!

Join the #FootballPeople weeks movement!


The #FootballPeople weeks is the largest global campaign to celebrate diversity and tackle discrimination in football, and this year’s event takes place between 8th and 22nd October.

Join other educational institutions, schools, as well as grassroots groups, clubs and NGOs throughout Europe.
You can take part by organising Football Makes History activities or by using the Fare network Educational Toolkit. All we ask you to do is to register your activity and run this during the #FootballPeople weeks.

Go to https://fare.force.com/FootballPeopleRegisterActivity_4736192 to register your activity!

Fare can also send you resources and materials to promote your event upon request. You'll also get activities from our Football Makes History project to undertake as part of the #FootballPeople weeks if you wish to try them out.
For more information about the Football Makes History project head to footballmakeshistory.eu and for the Fare toolkit see https://www.farenet.org/news/fare-launches-first-ever-educational-diversity-toolkit-resource-for-young-people/.


Exciting Progress in Strategies for Inclusion Project

Partners of the Strategies for Inclusion project met in The Hague on 16-17 January to assess progress made so far and to review results on the work done with intellectual outputs of the project. Each partner has been working with intellectual outputs that help to make history and citizenship education more inclusive.

First phase of the project, including needs assessment study and collection of existing Resources, is almost done, and first results will be published online soon.

Needs assessment study to find out about the barriers to high-quality history and citizenship education has been conducted by EuroClio Ambassador Manuela Carvalho from School cluster Montemor-o-Velho. In the next stage each partner sets up local focus group interviews to further discuss and assess findings of the study. Based on the results of the needs assessment, the Dutch partner Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences will write policy recommendations.

Collection of existing resources, which EuroClio member CIVITAS from Armenia is coordinating, is finished and partners have written summary reports of the most useful resources. This selection of existing resources will be made available on EuroClio website soon.

Project Managers Judith Geerling and Aysel Gojayeva also updated partners on the development of educational materials made by Special Interest Group members. Finally, partners tested the interview form for collection of practices designed by EuroClio. Next, each partner will conduct interviews to collect useful inclusive practices.

For more information and updates visit our project page.


Making History and Citizenship Education More Inclusive in London

On 7-12 November educators from 11 different countries met in London for the second combined special interest group meeting within the project “Strategies for Inclusion”.  Aim of this meeting was to develop and peer-review educational resources that the group members had been preparing for inclusive history and citizenship education.

Meeting was hosted by Open Society Foundation London office and Cass School of Education and Communities at the University of East London, and realised with the support by Erasmus+ and Open Society Foundations. In the welcoming speeches Hugh McLean, director of the Open Society Education Support Program and Dr. Carrie Weston, Associate Dean and Director of Learning and Teaching at UEL both stressed the importance of this unique project. According to them inclusive education is a subject that needs more attention, and that Strategies for Inclusion project has profound resonance with what is happening in the world today.

Together with EuroClio project managers Judith Geerling, Aysel Gojayeva, project advisor Steven Stegers and trainee Piia Lempiäinen the group worked to prepare the educational resources for future piloting. Project partner Manuela Carvalho presented the first results of the assessment of needs and resources for teachers to facilitate more inclusive education. The programme also included training sessions on inclusive assessment by Kala Parasuram, Assessment Access and Inclusion Manager at the International Baccalaureate, and on editing materials by independent editor Kay Coleman. During a visit to Victoria & Albert Museum of Childhood the group was introduced to museum’s Special Education Needs programmes and inclusive approaches. One highlight of the week was a visit to Hampshire Secondary History Network, where Dr. Patricia Hanam, County Inspector and Adviser for History in Hampshire hosted the group. The day included getting to know Hampshire History Centre and Rights and Diversity Centre, as well as visit to Wildern School to see how inclusion works in a large secondary school. All of these programme elements stimulated thoughtful discussion on inclusive history and citizenship education among the group, and produced many new contacts in the UK.

Next Special Interest Group meeting will be held in Czechia in May 2017. Follow our project page for updates and news.


European Commission Colloquium Underlines the Importance of Education

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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.

“Deepening the discussion is the only way out of radicalisation.” Interview with EuroClio’s Jonathan Even-Zohar

At Euroclio we are promoting a type of history teaching that promotes peace and democracy. The way history teaching can do this is very complex… Jonathan Even-Zohar.

UNITED for Intercultural Action, is a European Network against nationalism, racism, fascism and in support of migrants and refugees. UNITED’s vision is one of peaceful coexistence and intercultural respect all over the world. Their goal is intercultural understanding and cooperation.

UNITED for Intercultural Action, is holding a conference in Torino, Italy from 22 to 27 April 2016, 'Moving stories: Narratives of Migration Crossing Europe'.  

We need a paradigm shift in how we narrate our own past; we need to break with the tradition of focusing history education on the telling the stories of nations and states... Jonathan Even-Zohar. 

In the context of UNITED’s upcoming conference, had an interview with Jonathan Even-Zohar, EuroClio’s director, who gave his opinion on the refugee crisis, and the role of historians and history teachers in challenging the prevalent narrative on migration.

If you want to read the complete interview click here.

For more information on UNITED, visit their website, Twitter and Facebook.

History and Civic Education Under Debate in 2nd Polish-Norwegian ‘Faces of Diversity’ Seminar

From 5 – 7 October the 2nd Polish-Norwegian seminar took place at the POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews in Warsaw. EuroClio programme director Steven Stegers was invited to participate in the seminar. The central question of the seminar was what history and civic education can contribute to the acquisition of competences for active participation in democratic culture. Participants could visit the core exhibition of the POLIN Museum “A thousand years of the history of Polish Jew” and learn about the educational programmes. The 22 July Centre (on the twin attacks in Oslo and on the island Utøya, 22 July 2011) opened the discussion on the challenges of education related to such recent events (that are not yet history, nor memory). The Falstad Centre presented an education project on Josef Grabowski, one of the prisoners in SS Strafgefangenenlager Falstad. In this project students make their own presentation of the history of Josef Grabowki based on sources from various archives. The European Wergeland Centre presented a draft version of the framework for Competences for Democratic Citizenship and questioned what history can contribute to this. The seminar was part of the “Faces of Diversity” of the POLIN Museum. This project is supported by the EEA grants and Polish Ministry of Culture. The 3rd Polish-Norwegian seminar is expected to take place in Norway and to focus on “History Education and Human Rights Education”.