The Trentino IPRASE (Provincial Institute for Educational Research and Experimentation), the University of Trento, the Fondazione Museo Storico del Trentino (Trentino History Museum Foundation), the Bildungsressort – Bereich Innovation und Beratung (Education Direction, Innovation and Counselling Area) of the Autonomous Province of Bolzano and the Landesschulrat für Tirol (Tyrol Schools Council) are partners in the didactic experiment “Building history – Geschichte schreiben. From a local to a European perspective” and are promoting the international conference “Crossing borders with history. Experiences and perspectives of the teaching of history”.
The initiative is being promoted as the second phase of the research project and didactic experiment “Building history” comes to an close. The project consists of an empirical study, which was carried out between 2003 and 2007, into the teaching of history in secondary schools in Trentino, and into the development of proposals for didactic experimentation aimed at improving history teaching and learning methods and at promoting good practices in order to bring young people closer to history, including by extending it to the local dimension. The second phase, which started in 2010, has involved various institutes from the three areas comprising the historical region of Tyrol (Trentino, North Tyrol and South Tyrol) which now belong to different
countries: the Italian and the Austrian Republics. Starting from wide and shared topics, the experimentation focused on the border that nowadays separates North Tyrol from South Tyrol and Trentino, or more simply, Austria from Italy, to underline how historical events have divided a shared historical experience and have caused tensions which are still strongly evident today.
The aim of the experimentation, carried out in different school classes in both Trentino and Tyrol, consisted in highlighting the similarities and differences in the historical events examined, in the belief that from an educational perspective different points of view represent the most interesting aspect for the teaching of history. In border areas in particular this goal can be successfully achieved by experimenting with innovative teaching methodologies and practices and by promoting a history seen from a variety of viewpoints, in contrast to the national historiographies which dominate the great contemporary narratives.
The agreement signed by the governors of the three regions for the construction of the Tyrolean Euregio and the European perspective represent the backdrop against which this experiment takes place. History and its teaching can be useful tools and ways to encourage cohabitation from a transnational point of view, and to overcome the divisions and the contradictions of the past without cancelling distinctive local characteristics. History can also be a particularly effective means of promoting integration among different ethnic and social groups and of treating the issue of migration with more respect and pluralism, an issue which also include borders running through our own society.
The proposal of a final international meeting aims, first of all, to highlight similar initiatives (both carried out and in progress) in other regions in Europe or around the world, as well as to define theories and methodologies regarding the importance of borders and of border areas in teaching practices. The word “border”, as is well-known, is polysemous and is the object of inquiries and multidisciplinary comparisons. In the light of the transformations occurring in global communications and of the progressive loss of sovereignty by nation states, this word does not so much represent a line or area of separation as a shared space or memory that runs through the everyday life of our cities, especially those situated in border areas or characterized by major ethnicnational divisions (just consider certain monuments in our cities and the different memories they evoke, and thus the differences in identity that they sometimes denote).
The aim is to promote an opportunity for an up-to-date reflection on this topic. There is no wish to ignore or to naively assert that borders have not historically been acts of imposition and force, nor to underestimate the importance of sharing them. However, the basic assumption is that borders, in a moment of deep crisis and radical transformations of statehood, should not be seen and experienced as acts and lines of division and separation, but could represent, in Europe as well as around the world, a resource for communities living in territories crossed by these - evident or hidden - lines.
In the light of this short presentation, we invite schools, research institutions and scholars to present their proposals for papers on the following topics:
- reflections on the question of borders, and their abstract and material meaning in relation to the teaching/learning of history;
- educational experiences and experiments carried out in border areas in the field of history;
- the construction and development of didactic materials of use in border environments;
- the aims and an assessment of the results following the introduction of innovative practices in the teaching/learning of history in border areas.
The conference will take place in Trento on 23-24 November 2012. Proposals must be sent to the Conference Office of the University of Trento (following the format available on the website) by the end of June 2012. The abstract must be between 3,000 and 4,000 characters (including the spaces between words), not including the bibliography (max. 10 references). Applicants will be informed of the acceptance of their proposal by the Scientific Committee by July 2012. The full text of the paper is to be delivered fifteen days before the meeting.
Scientific Committee: Luigi Blanco, Alessandro Cavalli, Giuseppe Ferrandi, Walter Pichler, Mauro Pitteri, Irmgard Plattner, Chiara Tamanini.
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