The rationale for the EHISTO project is to explore how popular history magazines can be used in history teaching in schools, in history teacher education, and in continuing professional development for teachers, in order to develop the critical media literacy of young people. It will foster the development in young people of intercultural and media-critical competence in dealing with commercial representations of history which they will encounter outside the history classroom, focusing in particular on the phenomenon of popular history magazines which have become increasingly popular and available across EU countries.
The project aims to develop study packages and learning objects based on articles from popular magazines, and activities deriving from the study of those magazine articles. An emphasis will be placed on aspects of history which are covered in the history curricula and in popular magazines across the countries involved in the project, which can be said to represent ‘European History Crossroads’, and which will therefore add an element of multi-perspectivity, interculturality and differing national perspectives to the materials and study packages which are developed.
The outcomes will be in the form of:
One of the success criteria for the project is that it will make a positive contribution to responsible, European citizenship. It also aims at the development of young people who are historically and critically literate in their understanding of the ways in which history is presented in the media.
Some mention should be made of the Council of Europe recommendations for the teaching of history, as these recommendations form the theoretical framework for structuring materials and activities which might be helpful in developing the critical literacy which is one of the key aims of the project. It is important that these principles are kept in mind when working on activities and learning objects related to history magazine articles throughout the project. For the purposes of this study, we have focused on the following aspects of this guidance:
In terms of deliverables, the baseline study aims to find out teachers’ views and practice in terms of the use of history magazines. ‘What questions are worth asking?’ about popular history magazines, and what sort of materials and activities based around popular history magazines would be helpful in developing the historical, critical and media literacy of young people?
At the opening EHISTO seminar in Augsburg, it was decided to focus on two particular historical topics which were felt to be commonly represented in the history curricula of partner countries (and probably across the EU in general) and which were likely to be also represented in popular history magazines. The two topics chosen were a) the causes/outbreak of World War One, and b) Voyages of Discovery/Colonialism/Empire. These topics could be seen to represent a European ‘history crossroads’, in the sense that the topics are widely encountered, both in history classrooms and in ‘public history’ outside the school, through television, the internet, and in newspapers and magazines.
Through a combination of questionnaires and interviews with history teachers in all five of the countries involved, the baseline study aimed to gain insight into the issues described above, and in particular:
It was also agreed at the Augsburg kick-off meeting that it would be helpful to gain some insight into the views of history didactics about history magazines, at the outset of the project.