Interview with Geert Kessels, Project manager at EUROCLIO, the European Association of History Educators
EUROCLIO, the European Association of History Educators, one of the ‘friends of eTwinning' offers training and seminars for history teachers at a European level. We recently caught up with project manager Geert Kessels and asked him a few probing questions about the EUROCLIO platform.
What is the added value for EUROCLIO members?
The main added value of EUROCLIO is related to the training/seminar opportunities we offer. To be part of it one can apply for Grundtvig individual grants. We are the only platform at European level which offers training and seminars which bring history teachers together and enable them to meet, share and debate face to face.
Our members are mostly national history teachers’ organisation. Therefore, if history teachers would like to know more about EUROCLIO they should get in touch either with their national association or check our website.
Can you provide an example of a recent and successful activity run by EUROCLIO?
For 20 years, we have been a project-based organisation, so we have a wide range of projects. However recently we worked closely with Eastern European countries and Balkans to embed new methodologies in the curriculum. The process is to gather teachers from the areas concerned in order to work cooperatively on common historical courses.
You recently launched a new portal called Historiana. Can you please tell us more about it?
The website offers a first real alternative solution to the idea of a European History Textbook. Thirty countries from Europe and beyond take part. Teachers can develop new materials and upload them; then the editorial board composed by teachers and experts assess the materials and decide whether is worth to publish.
In a climate of the rising sentiments of nationalism in Europe, the promotion of critical awareness and mutual respect becomes crucial. What is the opinion of EUROCLIO of this trend?
Fighting against the rise of nationalism is one of our main objectives. Cooperation enables to counterbalance stereotypes. Therefore the collaboration of teachers from the same area is fundamental.
This approach should be applied as much for post conflict countries (Balkan, Caucasus) as for western countries. Historiana is one of the tools which could be used in this manner. eTwinning is also fighting against the rise of extremism by offering a platform to discuss and share. eTwinning brings students outside their national box. Hence it enriches their awareness.
eTwinning offers a natural alliance between History teachers from across Europe. Using the communication tools and the social network opportunities of eTwinning, and the wealth of resources offered by EUROCLIO, history teachers can find common ground on which to communicate and build projects together. This is not of course confined only to teachers of history, other teachers looking for topics of historical interest can also benefit from the resources offered by the EUROCLIO.