History Teaching

"Learning and teaching about the history of Europe in the 20th century" – final conference

(Foreword of the publication by Denis Durand de Bousingen, journalist)

Meeting at the Haus der Geschichte (House of History museum) in the German city of Bonn from 22 to 24 March, the project designers, experts and members of the CDCC and of the various working groups, compared the finished teaching packs with current needs in respect of history teaching in Europe as portrayed by the academics, education experts and journalists also at the conference.

The Haus der Geschichte provided the ideal setting as an interactive museum where visitors progress along a path lined with everyday or symbolic pictures, films and objects that retrace 50 years of German history. It is a perfect illustration of how it is possible to give history teaching and the presentation of history a new lease of life by placing the visitor amidst surroundings that will trigger dialogue and emotions rather than bare statements of fact. History like this, that you can “touch” because it seems so near and so approachable, is one of the main aims of the project. Moreover, the project stresses the valuable role of museums and field trips in backing up school-based education.

The project “Learning and teaching about the history of Europe in the 20th century” is the fruit of three years’ work carried out under the aegis of the Council of Europe’s Council for Cultural Co-operation and is aimed at helping teachers to find ways of presenting 20th century history from new angles, especially as this complex, war-stricken period is one that is often perceived as difficult to teach. It centres on theme-based and methodological “teaching packs” and uses the languages of the 20th century, ranging from images to cinema and the computer, to explore the period’s chequered history, from the emancipation of women to the crimes and lies associated with totalitarian regimes. A far cry from the lecture theatre and peremptory statements of fact, it encourages students to question history as they discover it, and also teaches them to be on the look-out for traps and manipulation.