– European history through the eyes of the young

30 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall (and the end of the Cold War) Europe now enjoys a significantly higher level of democracy with greater freedom of movement and speech. However this is not a guaranteed status quo. Walls are still around and new ones are constantly being built. The discussions around Brexit show how populism can quickly gain large support. People are often not very interested in looking more deeply into where we Europeans come from and what the causes of our current issues are.

#shiftingwalls would like to open this dialogue. Its aim is to produce and share materials for teachers within history, political science, language learning and art focussing on the last 30 years of Europe’s histories. The core activity will be for secondary students to work on photo stories. These stories will capture glimpses of places or objects and memories from eye witnesses. In this way they will take first steps in understanding historiography or the mediation of history.

#shiftingwalls is designed to cover thirty years of history in three overlapping themes:

  • “The Fall of the Wall“ (1989/1990, the end of the Cold War)
  • “From 1990 to 2020“ (30 year period since the fall of the wall)
  • “History Now” (new walls we are facing today)

The team will develop a Teaching Toolkit for each theme with task sheets for teachers and students, video tutorials and other teacher training materials. The photo story of each theme will be one minute long and will include five to ten photos as well as text (in the form of titles) or a sound track or video format.

Students can use their smartphones for production but could also work with cameras and computers. The students´ photo stories will be shared on social media, focussing on the popular visual media tool Instagram. The project’s name will be the hashtag of all activities – #shiftingwalls (there will also be alternative options according to teachers’ interest). Using students’ own language and genre is important for stimulating curiosity and increasing motivation for the subject.

The #shiftingwalls multidisciplinary team comprises two universities, two non-profit associations, an educational foundation and an innovative school. Together the team comes from five different European countries: Bulgaria, Greece, Spain, Lithuania and importantly two from the former East and West part of Berlin, Germany. The material for teachers will include an educational foundation as well as class methodologies, technical support, information about copyright and privacy. Initial ideas will be piloted by a network of at least 25 school classes and will be the basis for compact teacher training workshops. All material produced will be available online as Open Educational Resources with a Creative Commons license on the project website as well as on partner and associated portals as a sustainable outcome.