COUNCIL OF EUROPE
Learning and teaching about the history of Europe
in the 20th century
The project on “Learning and teaching about the history of Europe in the 20th century” adopted an interdisciplinary and pan-European stance which stressed the importance of social, scientific, cultural and oral history, among others. Similarly, the project encouraged teaching history using a range of sources, such as the new technologies, cinema, women’s history, archives and museums, and developed the concept of “remembrance” as vital to the prevention of crimes against humanity.
Several in-service teacher training seminars were held throughout Europe as some of these important sources and themes are not covered adequately by the curriculum.
Skills-based teaching resources, for which material is often lacking, were developed on
(a) Teaching the Holocaust in the 21st century: 50 fact sheets designed to supplement teachers’ knowledge on this subject, which is approached from a vast European perspective;
(b) Teaching 20th-century women’s history: a classroom approach: designed to integrate women’s history into current classroom practice;
(c) Europe on-screen: cinema and the teaching of history: this resource studies selected films illustrating the themes of nationalism, women, immigration and human rights, and provides a pedagogical basis for exploiting cinema as a source of history;
(d) Teaching 20th-century European history: this comprehensive handbook on how to teach 20th century lays the groundwork for approaching themes and topics from a European perspective; for multiperspectivity – encouraging students to investigate the experience of those holding opposing and unpopular viewpoints; provides a methodology for developing research and assessment skills of historical sources, particularly the media and new technologies; promotes understanding others through role play and the teaching of sensitive and controversial issues.
A direct result of the project was Recommendation No R (2001) 15 of the Committee of Ministers, which is the first text adopted at pan-European level to set clear methodological principles on the objectives of history teaching in a democratic and pluralist Europe. Broad in scope, this landmark document covers the aims of history teaching, the European dimension, syllabus content, leaning methods, teacher training, information and communication technologies and the misuse of history. The recommendation is unconditional in its condemnation of the latter, two examples of which are abuse of the historical record and interpretations of history based upon the “us” and “them” dichotomy, as incompatible with the values of the Council of Europe.
As preventive measures against the recurrence of this century’s devastating events, the recommendation calls for the implementation of the education ministers’ decision to designate in schools a “Day for remembrance and for the prevention of crimes against humanity”.
Preparation of teaching resources and activities to enhance this day are currently being developed throughout the member states signatory to the European Cultural Convention.
Publications from the project “Learning and teaching about the history of Europe in the 20th century”
Towards a pluralist and tolerant approach to teaching history: a range of sources and new didactics (1999)
The challenges of the information and communication technologies facing history teaching (1999)
The misuses of history (2000)
Teaching 20th-century women’s history: a classroom approach (2000)
The European home: representations of 20th-century Europe in history textbooks (2000)
Teaching 20th-century European history (2000)
Europe on-screen: cinema and the teaching of history (2001)
Teaching the Holocaust in the 21st century (2001)
The changing face of Europe: populations flows in the 20th century
Structures and standards of initial training for history teachers in 13 member states of the Council of Europe
To order: Council of Europe Publishing
Web site: http://book.coe.int