History Teaching

Beyond the textbook - Principles and values

Recent developments (since 1997)

The question of democratic values taught – or not – through history teaching and learning paves the way for the three projects developed after 1997.

  • At about the same time, both the Parliamentary assembly (Recommendation 1283) and the Kristiansand Standing Conference of European Ministers of Education requested a product-oriented project developing innovative teaching resources for secondary schools. This lead to the project "Learning and teaching the history of the 20th century Europe". Previous sets of conferences and symposia were organised with the aim of opening a space around a topic for specialists of history to share and confront their point of views, and the discussions resulted in broad guidelines to be implemented in different contexts. The new project, on the other hand, was conceived as a coherent whole with the aim of producing model teaching material, specific teacher training activities, and in-depth discussion of history teaching methods and approaches to develop skills needed for democratic citizenship, a topic that is pursued also in a separate initiative of the Council of Europe (EDCHR).
  • The project "20th century" in turn gave birth to an important document for history teaching (Recommendation (2001) 15), and the concept of multiperspectivity, which built the rationale for the next project: the "European dimension in history teaching". In view of the re-emergence of nationalism, racism, xenophobia and intolerance, there was and still is a need to reconsider the notion of difference and the condition of acceptance of diversity. History teaching can provide some useful reflections inasmuch as all the activities since 1953 have strived to move away from the traditional purpose of history teaching (ie stating the founding and development of nation states over time, defining the conditions of being a citizen of this state, and by opposition, defining those who are outside, the "others") to an opening beyond boundaries (the European dimension) and acceptance and respect for the other, who is different and goes about in different ways, so that diversity becomes a source of mutual enrichment.
  • Such is also the purpose of the more recent project "The image of the Other".

[Further readings about the history of the division]