Teachers from Europe Will Be Making History in Wales

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Byline: By PEGGY GEORGE Western Mail

History teachers from allparts of Europe will be descending on Cardiff on Monday for the annual conference of Euroclio, the Council of Europe-backed organisation for history education.

More than 100 teachers from as far afield as Estonia and Lithuania will be hosted by Association of History Teachers in Wales (AHTW), which is supported by the Wales Assembly Government.

The Euroclio AGM is hosted in a different European city each spring and the theme of this year's conference is 'Belonging to Europe - small nation, big issues'.

During the week delegates will attend workshops and discussion groups which will explore how the various European nations teach aspects both of national history and the links between national histories and European history.

The methodology of history teaching in the various countries will also be compared. In addition they will visit the sites of much of Wales' cultural heritage: the castles at Cardiff and Caerphilly; the National Museum of Wales; the Museum of Welsh Life at St Fagans; the Rhondda Heritage Centre and Cardiff's docklands.

Euroclio was founded in the wake of the collapse of the Communist states of central and eastern Europe. Its central belief is that history plays an important role in building and maintaining democracy and strengthening mutual understanding between different countries and peoples in Europe.

At the same time history teaching has frequently been used as a vehicle for political propaganda, hatred and aggression.

After the collapse of the Iron Curtain in 1989 the scope and perspective of history and history education in many parts of Europe changed completely.

New states asked for reinterpretations of the past and questions were asked about the role that history and history teaching should play in forming national identities.

Even in Wales and other parts of Britain with our liberal traditions, there are questions to be asked about what history we should be teaching in our schools and what part history plays in the preparation of young people for adult life.

How far should a state agenda and the maintenance of national consensus about the interpretation of the past inform the history curriculum in schools? For many countries a European dimension in history teaching has only recently become possible and important for the future. …