Northern Ireland Council for Integrated Education (NICIE) developed this project as a resource and support to teachers and students hoping to mark the Decade of Anniversaries.
They found that some teachers were reluctant to teach certain topics, in particular those relating to the recent conflict, and so a web resource and support programme was developed in order to provide primary and post- primary teachers and schools with resources, guidance, and strategies to encourage active pupil investigation of significant events within the Decade of Anniversaries.
The website - www.facingthepastshapingthefuture.com - includes the following sections:
• Approaches and skills: useful approaches and prompt questions to open up discussion about specific historical issues.
• Events and Key Stage Ideas: Home Rule, Ulster Covenant, Ulster Provisional Government and gun-running, Government of Ireland Act and Partition. Pages are also being developed on women and WWI.
• Lesson plans: considering key issues for both primary and post- primary classes.
• Teaching and Learning Strategies: ideas for incorporating the Decade into various teaching areas such as history or citizenship.
• Resources and Videos: support on using drama and storytelling; links to online archives, exhibitions, online lectures and articles, visual and written sources.
How has it been used?
The main focus has been to raise history teachers’ awareness of the website itself and its potential in supporting them in the teaching of controversial and sensitive commemorations. Meanwhile, the following sessions took place:
• Using enquiry resources from the website to train teachers in the facilitation of enquiry methods as a suitable approach for teaching contentious anniversaries.
• Presenting the website as a platform for discussions on commemoration of the Troubles.
• Using strategies from the website to develop lessons on the role of women in the 1916 rising and how this has been remembered. • Raising awareness of how the website can be used to address current issues.
What worked well and what, if anything, didn't?
Teachers are encouraged to think about what they bring to the teaching in terms of their own ways of thinking, and also have an opportunity to explore what they feel comfortable with, and less comfortable with, and why. The aim is to support teachers to teach difficult issues with confidence and in an appropriate fashion. Providing history teachers with the opportunities to engage in enquiry approaches as a good way of teaching sensitive issues has identified a need for more development in this area.
Raising awareness inevitably leads to linking and networking with other projects and expands access to support and resources, especially facilitation methodology for history teachers.
See the project’s website www.facingthepastshapingthefuture.com.