In 2002, to help teachers implement the Recommendation on history teaching in twenty-first-century Europe, and in particular multiperspectivity, the Committee of Education launched a project with the aim of enriching the national approaches by stressing the European dimension in history teaching.

The project was to focus on

  • defining what a European approach and dimension could be through the analysis of a small number of key dates in Europe’s recent history;
  • highlighting concrete methods to be used by teachers in their classrooms.

While respecting the framework of objectives set by the Education Committee, it became clear that this project should:

  • focus on events, topics, themes or developments which are truly European either because they happened across much of Europe or had direct or indirect consequences for much if not all of the continent;
  • encourage teachers to take a comparative perspective and set the events in their own country into a broader European and global context;
  • contribute to the development of young people’s historical understanding and critical skills as well as their knowledge;
  • encourage teachers and students to examine key events, conflicts and developments from a multiplicity of perspectives.

Five key dates in Europe’s recent history were chosen for their European significance i.e. historical or cultural events which serve as foundation for a European consciousness, around which activities were developed:

  • “1848 in European history”
  • “the Balkan wars in 1912-1913”
  • “looking for peace in 1919”
  • “the end of World War II and the beginning of Cold War in 1945”
  • “events and developments of 1989/90 in Central and Eastern Europe”

Project outcomes

Three pedagogical instruments were developed for secondary school learners as well as teachers and trainers who wish to include multiple perspectives in their teaching practice:

  • a publication: "Crossroads of European histories. Multiple outlooks on five key moments in the history of Europe"
  • a CD-ROM containing primary and secondary sources collected by historians of all the member states of the Council of Europe
  • a teachers' manual