World Café: How can we bring Remembrance Education to the classroom?

Alicia Rijlaarsdam EUROCLIO, Project Updates ,

In January and February 2021, EuroClio hosted the ‘Lest We Forget’ webinar series. In four sessions we focused on networking, practices and the relevance of remembrance education. The series was based on the RETHINK project. This article gives a brief reflection of the last session of the ‘Lest we forget’ series; the World Café focused on ‘How can we bring Remembrance Education to the classroom?’.

History education is learning about the past, while remembrance education is learning from the past

In the first discussion round, participants shared insights on the meaning and importance of Remembrance Education. Remembrance education was defined as developing critical thinking about the past while avoiding polarisation and drawing on a multiperspectivity approach. The need for connection and relevance to history curricula was emphasized while also managing feelings of both teachers and pupils in a constructive and positive manner. An educator mentioned that the younger generations are often far removed from realties of war, it is therefore important to remember to enliven difficult histories. Remembrance Education can be a tool to help students speak about difficult issues and to make events more tangible. It may help bring forth not only a national but also an individual identity as Remembrance Education helps with creating generational bonds or more broadly, meaningful connections between past and present. The role of teachers for Remembrance Education is multifold. Educators can help develop critical thinking and memory building as well as assisting in understanding more recent atrocities. Educators can help students realise dehumanisation was not only limited to the Holocaust, but has happened in many forms in many places.

Silence is a natural response to sensitive topics. People prefer to be silent rather than dare discuss controversial or unpleasant topics. However, when an entire generation can go without knowing what happened, silence becomes harmful to society and specifically to classrooms

Participants shared many reasons as to why it is hard to remember. Tensions may arise between narratives in the classroom and that of student’s family members. This can be related to generational differences but also to historical amnesia, the act of forgetting historical events. Students may look at the past through the eyes of the present as contemporary films, games and media may misrepresent historical events leading to apathy and desensitisation. Educators might be faced with a wide range of emotions from students. Students may react emotionally, show apathy, assign blame to others or become angry when faced with Remembrance Education.

Every perspective has blind spots. Only by changing your perspective can you see what you were blind to

After having identified obstacles, we discussed tips and tricks for educators when it comes to Remembrance Education. One of the main tools when dealing with apathy from students is to sensitise students to traumatic histories and experiences. This can be done by site visits, by the use of primary sources such as video-testimonies and diaries or by personal visits from survivors. Emphasizing ordinary experiences and feelings will help make Remembrance Education more relatable. Key is to open up dialogue, possibly through mediation, and involve the audience. One of the teachers mentioned Schindler’s List, the use of film can assist in airing dialogue. Educators may need to compromise with institutional or political pressures. Preparation and debriefing are crucial when talking about atrocities and genocides. A visit to Auschwitz for example should be paired with preparation beforehand and with a reflection afterwards as not to be overwhelmed by experiencing a traumatic history. A network of educators who are teaching traumatic histories to manage such emotions can also be helpful.

The focus of educators should be on teaching human values, not sole facts

This sentiment has come forward throughout the ‘Lest we forget’ webinar series. The opening lecture was given by Peninah Zilberman. As a child of Holocaust survivors, she talked about the inherent obligation to ‘Remember’. In particular, Peninah Zilberman confronted participants with issues, myths and responsibilities children of survivors inherit from their parents. The obligation to remember comes with difficulties and can be addressed using a multiperspective approach. In the workshop ‘Multiperspectivity in Remembrance Education’ we discussed the difference between memory and history and the use of various methods to explore differences with students in a way that respects their feelings and does justice to history. The use of video-testimonies in the classroom can be a tool to give voice to the stories of survivors of atrocities. In the workshop ‘the use of video testimonies in Remembrance Education', the genesis of video-testimonies was discussed as well as practicalities as where to find video-testimonies and understanding their potential for a learning environment.

EuroClio would like to thank the speakers and participants of the ‘Lest we forget’ webinar series and in particular the participants of the ‘World Café’ for sharing their experiences and insights on Remembrance Education.

Would you like to know more about the RETHINK project, it’s teachers guide, or the network created? Have a look at our project page. As part of the ‘Lest we forget’ series, EuroClio has created a resource booklet for all participants. Would you like to receive it as well? Send an email to alice@euroclio.eu.

Sources as a Window to the Past: Revisit Helen Snelson’s Webinar on Using Sources as Evidence in the Digital Classroom

On December 9th, EuroClio ambassador Helen Snelson kicked off the four-part webinar series on mastering the art of developing eLearning Activities on Historiana. By using source material on post-war Europe, Helen was able to create a meaningful and engaging eActivity for her students. In this article you find the tips and tricks on using source materials as evidence that Helen shared, and get ideas on how to use Historiana in your educational practice.

Historiana is an online portal developed by EuroClio, Webtic and UseMedia with Europeana for and with history and citizenship educators from Europe and beyond. On Historiana you can find ready to use learning activities, multiperspective historical content and digital tools that are all free to use, adapt and share.

What can sources teach your students?

The webinar started off with an insight in how using individual sources can instill a ‘sense of period’ with students. This helps them to feel more secure about their understanding of the past and make sense of historical people and events in a broader context. Helen demonstrated this in her eLearning Activity with a 1949 German election poster, generating a sense of the hunger and hardships, but also the future-oriented mindset of the time. Exercises using single sources to this effect can easily be made in Historiana’s eActivity builder using the question, analysing, or highlighting tool. Helen recommended assigning this eActivity as homework to prepare students for your classes, especially when in-class time is limited.

 

 

(Click on the image to watch) 7:12- 11:48: In this segment, Helen Snelson demonstrates how to build a ‘sense of period’ of post-war Europe using a 1949 German election poster.

Afterwards, the webinar concentrated further on using different sets of sources. Helen stressed how different sets of sources, such as maps, pictures, or objects, give us different types of evidence. By really engaging students in these different types of sources, they will discover for themselves what type of information these sets can give them on the historical topic at hand. The comparing and discovering tools in the eLearning Activity are especially suited for this end.

“Fascinating as we all are as history teachers – sometimes, students turn off when we talk at them […]. But actually, because they have really engaged with the source material, they are burning with questions which you can then help them to find some answer to, and their curiosity is aroused.” Helen Snelson

(Click on the image to watch) 13:40- 22:41: In this segment, Helen Snelson builds on the previous activity by contrasting the poster with a testimony of a French schoolgirl and demonstrates how to do this as an eActivity in Historiana.

What distinguishes evidence from sources?

When discussing sources in general, Helen pointed out that teachers also need to be very careful about their language, as ‘sources’ and ‘evidence’ are not interchangeable. A source is something a historian can use as evidence to say something specific about the past, but with widely varying degrees of certainty. It is important for teachers to confer the uncertainty inherent to the historical profession, for example by asking students what they can ‘infer’ from a source. When we start using multiple sources, we can show students that one type of source can be corroborated and connected or compared with other sources to create more valid evidence.

To demonstrate the limitations of sources when studying the past, Helen shared the metaphor of sources as ‘a window to the past’. We are all inside, in the present, looking at the outside world, the past, through the window that is available to us: remaining sources. And when looking out of this window, everyone notices different things. We might choose to focus on the other buildings, the trees, or a bird flying by. Helen: “If we looked through that window, we would all notice different things, because we are all built slightly differently and we observe differently.” As educators, we should remind ourselves and our students that sources are not a representative reflection of the past, they are but fragmentary remains. And when students get a handle on this metaphor, they start to avoid  these oversimplifications that a single source would tell them a truth about the past and that’s that.

(Click on the image to watch) 36:25-37:54: How professional historians use source material to establish evidence and how to integrate this way of thinking in the classroom.

How to use sources effectively?

Helen also gave some helpful pointers to make the most effective use of sources in the classroom. By showing a well-selected source or set of sources, for example, you can demonstrate how new source material can overturn the popular view on historical events. She illustrated this by using a source that shows how the first shots in the First World War were fired outside of Europe, to overturn the entrenched image of trench warfare. Whenever possible, Helen advised to show the real source and not just a textual copy. This will train your students to pick up clues from context that otherwise might be lost. She further demonstrated how to use a Layers of Inference Diagram to teach students about deconstructing a source.

(Click on the image to watch) 47:02 - 50:41: How to use a Layers of Inference Diagram to deconstruct sources.

Conclusion: How to translate all of this into an eLearning Activity?

At the closing of the webinar, Helen explained how she combined all of her insights into an eLearning Activity on Historiana called ‘How does a historian use sources as evidence’ that she uses in her classroom. She then concluded with her expectations on the future of sources in history education: “I think what’s really exciting about history and history teaching at the moment is the wide array of sources that has been particularly driven by the young academic historians.” With the support of Historiana, you could train the next generation of young academic historians to engage with sources through your history teaching!

(Click on the image to watch) 55:08-59:30: What the final eLearning Activity using sources on Historiana looks like.

 

Learn More

Want to learn more about using sources as evidence in the (digital) classroom? Watch the full webinar here: https://youtu.be/s3ThUq1hTDs.

Access the ready to use eLearning Activity here: https://historiana.eu/ea/view/8011aab4-ad66-4ad3-97a3-d9c6812ae24b/text/bb_0

Upcoming events

This article is part of a webinar series, in which teacher educators who are experienced in using Historiana show examples of the eLearning Activities that they created, while also diving into a specific topic and discussing a critical thinking skill to teach students.

These events are scheduled next:

  • On February 17th, Bridget Martin (History Teacher, International School of Paris) will be focusing on the Contributions to WWI and talking about perspective. (register here)
  • On April 21st, Jim Diskant (History Teacher retd.) will be looking at Visual Representation of women (Thinking skill TBA). (register here)
  • On June 16th, Gijs van Gaans (Teacher Trainer, Fontys Tilburg) will be examining Schisms within Christianity and discuss change and continuity. (register here)

This article is written as part of the Europeana DSI4 project co-financed by the Connecting Europe Facility of the European Union. The sole responsibility of this publication lies with the author. The European Union is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information contained therein.

Written by Mechteld Visser.

Michael A. Sant Memorial Lecture

The History Teachers’ Association (Malta) organised its annual Michael A. Sant Memorial Lecture on 22nd September 2020. This lecture has been held uninterruptedly for the past eighteen years but due to the current international circumstances this year it had to be held remotely. The guest speaker for the webinar was Helen Snelson, from the University of York. Helen Snelson is also a EUROCLIO ambassador and chair of the UK Historical Association’s Secondary Teachers’ Committee. Snelson joins a string of international history educators who have presented at this memorial lecture.

The presentation was entitled, The personal and the particular: Stories to add intrigue, interruption and intensity to the History that students learn. The key argument was that well-chosen stories of individuals at specific moments in time help enrich learning in the history classroom. Highlighting the power of stories in helping students to understand and remember more, Snelson argued that stories can be a motivating factor in learning.

 

Using intriguing examples of life stories, Snelson showed how personal and particular stories can add complexity to historical narratives, ensuring that students learn that there are multiple perspectives on the past. Snelson added that stories help students understand how the past was experienced by different people in different ways. The presenter also discussed the centrality of stories in supporting students to connect topics.

This was an insightful presentation which contributed to the professional development of Maltese history teachers and educators. As a first, this webinar was well attended and the participants’ questions and comments showed that the array of examples brought up by Snelson to illustrate key ideas sparked off pedagogical ideas that can be developed and implemented in the classrooms.

 

Learning to Disagree training in Italy

The project Learning to Disagree was presented in Italy during a National Training organized in cooperation with the Chair of History Education of the University of Bari (Apulia region). The training took place as a cycle of three webinars held in July and focused on strategies to implement learning in times of pandemic.

Speakers during the first two meetings presented resources and examples of tasks developed to foster active learning with students working through online platforms. The last session focused on the challenges that the emergency poses to traditional models of education and knowledge.

Video lessons and materials have been published in Italian on Historia Ludens.

Roberto Maragliano, former professor of Education at Roma Tre University, argued that there is a relevant difference between “physical distance” and “social distance”. Whereas the first one is necessary in our times, teachers should aim at avoiding the second one. He highlighted that the current state of crisis of school teaching in Italy could be an opportunity to revise some of its long-standing principles of inspirations. Italian schooling still favours upper general secondary schools over technical/vocational and primary schools, and keeps alive a conflict between humanistic and scientific culture, as well as verbal and non-verbal learning. Forced online learning put into evidence the pitfalls of this system. Although in the immediate aftermath of the Corona crisis the Italian teachers tended to take on the challenge and look for new approaches, in the following months a strong reaction has tended to debase these attempts. The long-term impact of this phase is thus difficult to foresee and might contribute to confirm an old education model rather than to overcome it.

Antonio Brusa, former professor of History Education at the University of Bari, stated that each generation tends to refer to a presumed former golden age of historical knowledge and identifies a cause of growing historical ignorance in its present time. Nowadays, online learning is taken as the cause of Italian students’ ignorance. Although he admitted that many Italian students were not able to take advantage of online learning, Brusa claimed that digital resources enabled millions of them to keep on learning. Thus, online learning should be seen as part of the solution. However, Brusa pointed out that using technologies and new media is not enough to innovate transmissive approaches to teaching and learning. On the opposite, teachers should be aware of the risk that the use of up-to-date digital technologies covers a very traditional, teacher-centred approach. Moreover, the use of technologies must base on awareness of the epistemology of the disciplines and specific aims of each lesson. These, in turn, depend on real pupils and students.

Mr Paolo Ceccoli, former EuroClio President, opened the first session by presenting the Association and its activities. This was of special interest for Italian teachers because there is not a single strong association of history teachers in the country. This a great occasion to present Euroclio activities in Italy.

Mr Valerio Bernardi, member of the core team of Learning to Disagree, described the aims and the teaching materials that have been produced. In the first session, he introduced and showed some aspects of the teaching guide and how the project developed during the years. He also presented the activities prepared from the core team and published on Historiana. During the second session, he provided a detailed presentation of the activity about migration and the Vlora case study (which will also be presented at the 2020 EuroClio Annual Conference, see link). One third of the participants expressed a will to use the material proposed in class next year.

Ms Lucia Boschetti, who is working on a PhD in History Education at the University of Bari, focused on playful learning in history. She stressed the importance of creative learning and presented an activity set up in the 16th century. It aimed at enabling students to understand the changes in the concept of citizenship from Modern Times to European citizenship through playing interactive stories. Moreover, she explained how the free programming language Scratch supports the development of computational thinking as well as of historical thinking. Indeed, by creating a project about the crisis of the 14th century by using Scratch, students have to ask themselves questions about historical relevance and causality.

Mr Cesare Grazioli, who has published several articles about teaching contemporary history in Italy, explained how he planned and implemented materials to assess students’ historical thinking skills when learning online. He proposed examples of both formative and summative assessment. Attendee particularly appreciated an assignment which required students to select, analyse and use images as evidence of contention regarding political and social problems in the aftermath of the Second World War.

75 teachers followed at least 2/3 of the course, and 63 of them answered a final survey. On the basis of the results, attendees were equally distributed between lower secondary and upper secondary schools and came from all around Italy, although the majority worked in Apulia.

The course aimed to offer an opportunity for training but also to create a community of educators wishing to exchange ideas, doubts and experiences. The attendee particularly appreciated this aspect. Indeed 94% of them declared that they would like to join other meetings to discuss about daily teaching routine with colleagues. A higher percentage agreed that digital resources can contribute to improving the quality of teaching and learning after the pandemic. As argued by experts, teachers can achieve this result if they can plan their lessons with an awareness of the aims and methods of history teaching. Otherwise, online teaching and learning are likely to strengthen the comeback of a purely transmissive approach to the discipline, which proved to be poorly effective regardless of in-class or on-line teaching.

 

Written by Valerio Bernardi, history teacher and member of the Learning to Disagree team & Lucia Boschetti, PhD candidate in History Education at the University of Bari

 

Historians without Borders Webinar “Direction of European History: Past and Future of an Illusion?”

Anna Ivanova Opportunities ,

Historians without Borders in Finland and the secretariat of the International Network of Historians without Borders invite you to join this webinar with Professor Timothy Garton Ash at the University of Oxford addressing us on the Direction of European History: Past and Future of an Illusion? The webinar will take place on October 19 at 15:00 CET.

This will be the first of a new series of virtual events that Historians without Borders is arranging to discuss issues of History with a particular emphasis on our work bringing together historians interested in and working on conflict resolution and the role that history plays in conflicts.

Register for the webinar by October 16 at hwb.fi/tga. Link for the webinar will be sent to you on October 18.

For more information on Historians without Borders visit their website: hwb.fi. For the Biography of Timothy Garton Ash go to timothygartonash.com/biography.php

Call for Applications: “Academy of Korean Studies Program for Textbook Specialists in Europe” Webinar

The Academy of Korean Studies (AKS) is pleased to announce a call for applications for a webinar entitled "AKS Program for Textbook Specialists in Europe." AKS, a South Korean government-funded research institution, is planning to hold a webinar in which lectures about various aspects of Korea including history, art, and contemporary society are delivered and participants will present and discuss relevant topics. This program is designed for educating secondary school teachers, textbook authors, and college or university professors at the undergraduate level who are interested in Korea.

On the first day of the program, prominent Koreanists will deliver lectures about Korean history, inter-Korean relations, and Korean art. On the second day, participants will give presentations on and discuss education on Korea in European schools and Korea-related textbook or educational materials.

*All participants must have a webinar compatible application (For example ZOOM).

Date

  • 1st day: October 17, 2020 (Sat)
  • 2nd day: October 18, 2020 (Sun)

 

Eligibility: Secondary school teachers, textbook authors, and college or university professors who:

  • have an interest in teaching about Korea.
  • have an interest in writing about Korea in textbooks or creating Korea-related educational materials.

 

How to Apply

  • Applicants are required to complete and submit an application form that can be found here.

 

Application Deadline: August 14, 2020

  • Successful applicants will be notified individually by early September 2020.
  •  Successful applicants must submit their presentation by October 4, 2020 and should attend the seminar and the lectures.
  • Speakers will be paid an honorarium for their presentation.

 

Please note the following:

  • Send applications to the following address aksprogram@aks.ac.kr with the subject line “AKS Program for Textbook Specialists in Europe”.
  • Submissions should be made electronically. All documents must be in PDF format.
  • The file name should be: Last name, First name. For example: Bowie, David.

 

Further questions should be directed to Dr. Jaeyun Jeong via aksprogram@aks.ac.kr

 

Consequences of the Paris Peace Conference

On 18 June 1919 a young man working as a kitchen assistant at the Ritz Hotel in Paris sent a letter to US Secretary of State Lansing, who was a delegate at the Paris Peace Conference. He signed it, Nguyên Ái Quõc, a nom de plume meaning ‘Nguyên who loves his country’. His given name was Nguyên Sinh Cung, but we know him better as Hõ Chí Minh, leader of the Viêt Minh Independence movement that fought the occupying forces of Vichy France and Japan during World War Two and then fought French colonial forces from 1945 to 1954 followed by US forces from 1955 to 1975 (the Vietnam War).

He attached to the letter a petition titled The Claims of the Annamite People (the name used by the French colonial administration for the people who now live in Vietnam. At the time Annam was a protectorate within French-controlled Indochina. In that petition he and his associates – ‘The Group of Annamite Patriots’ – called for full civil rights for the Annamite people, a free press, the same rule of law as in France, an amnesty for Annamites imprisoned for their political activism, and a permanent Annamite delegation to the French National Assembly. Lansing replied that he would pass on the Note to President Wilson but no further action was taken. Hõ also sent copies of the petition to all the other political delegations at the Paris Conference. In the meantime a copy of the petition was published in L’Humanité, the French Socialist newspaper and copies were handed out on the streets in Paris. In 1920 Hõ Chí Minh was a founder member of the French Communist Party and then in 1923 left Paris to live in Moscow where he worked for the Comintern. In 1940 he acted as a link between Moscow and the Chinese Communists and then returned to Annam in 1941.

We can only speculate as to whether  a more positive response from Wilson would have enabled the USA to avoid a costly and futile 20-year war in the second half of the 20th century.

Join webinar