Back History teaching challenged by limited time, curriculum overload and teaching pressures, new Council of Europe report reveals

History teaching challenged by limited time, curriculum overload and teaching pressures, new Council of Europe report reveals

via the Council of Europe main portal

The first general report by the Council of Europe Observatory on History Teaching in Europe (OHTE), released in Strasbourg today, highlights teachers' concerns that crowded curriculums and teaching pressures are the greatest obstacles to history teaching in Europe. The report, presented at the OHTE's 3rd Annual Conference, “Teaching History: Teaching Peace?”, presents a clear picture of how history is taught in the sixteen OHTE member countries (*), plus observer Ukraine. It covers themes such as formal aspects of curriculum and classroom practices; challenges faced by educators; the place of history in education systems; textbooks and other educational resources; teaching dynamics; learning outcomes, and students’ assessments.  

Council of Europe Deputy Secretary General Bjørn Berge welcomed the observatory’s work as the latest innovation in Council of Europe standards to teach history in a way that equipped citizens with faith in their democracy and with the competences required to understand and defend their democratic culture. "The Observatory on History Teaching brings together governments and experts from across member states to distil common agreement on facts and the respect for differing viewpoints that is central to reconciliation with the past. It is a perfect example of the evolution of our approach, and it will only grow stronger as more member states choose to join it," he said.

OHTE Governing Board chair Alain Lamassoure stressed the importance of the observatory’s work. "We turn to history to understand the present and how it may affect the future. But history can also be manipulated with serious consequences for human rights and democracy. Today, we must ask: how are young people in Europe prepared to hear about the history of their origins? The observatory was born out of each country's need to know how to respond to new circumstances, to the constant flux of change in a complex world," he said.

The report's 15 key findings (executive summary) show that history is taught from primary school onwards and that in most states history lessons include teaching about minorities, but fewer than half explicitly mention the European dimension.

See the video presenting a selection of the OHTE General report’s key findings.

  Media coverage of the report in "Observatory in the Media"

(*) Observatory’s member states (16) covered by the report: Albania, Andorra, Armenia, Cyprus, France, Georgia, Greece, Ireland, Luxembourg, Malta, Portugal, North Macedonia, Serbia, Slovenia, Spain and Türkiye.

Strasbourg 30 November 2023
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History Education and the Council of Europe


The Council of Europe's work on history education is founded on the assumption that understanding the past is essential for building a shared future, for fostering European democracies and for strengthening active democratic citizenship. Our vision and motto is: Teaching History, Grounding Democracy. History teaching that is based on multiperspectivity, historical thinking and on the values of the Council of Europe can enhance students’ critical thinking skills, democratic competences and empathy – all of which are essential for generations of young citizens that value democracy. At the moment, four distinct initiatives complement each other in tackling history education in a comprehensive manner: the intergovernmental project on history education, the Observatory on History Teaching in Europe, the HISTOLAB Joint Project of the European Union and the Council of Europe, and the Remembrance of the Holocaust and Prevention of Crimes against Humanity programme. Click on any of the boxes below to learn more about each initiative.

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OHTE 7th Governing Board Meeting

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