Guidelines & Recommendations

History can divide close neighbours, but it can also unite them. The overall historical narrative told in most European textbooks is political, with focus on wars and few human beings, is remarkably similar throughout the Nordic and Baltic region countries. Victimisation, by the big bad neighbours as Germany, Poland and especially Russia returned in almost each presentation in our project seminar.

History teaching in today’s schools is always in lack of time, therefore each teacher must find out, which way would be the best to create the common picture of world history within short survey. So the history of neighbours could be discussed only fragmentary.

History textbooks are often still traditional and give rather outdated information not including new countries and there is relatively little coverage of contemporary history of post 1989/1991.

The big issue is though how much history educators target on the question what is the relevance of their teaching for young people or what interest young people.

Recommendations for educators and textbook authors

  1. Our duty is to represent a truth in all ways, especially when we are speaking about our own nation. True- life attitude with own history, which depends only on common democratic values, can promote the same outlook when we are speaking about history of another nations.
  2. The history teachers have a good reason to present an experience good or bad of all peoples. It makes a history attractive. At the same time we must have essential democratic values as guide.
  3. In history teaching is often tend to talk about “us” and “them”. It is important, however, to understand, that every person has many identities, and generalising makes things too simple. The neighbours can be inside a country as well, so it is important to talk about those aspects, too. National identity, as all other identities, is a dynamic progress and should be seen that way.
  4. When dealing with difficult or unpleasant things we have to rely on facts. In history teaching it is important to remember, that history could have been different. It is not given; it is the result of our choices. In this aspect values are always an important part of history teaching.
  5. The modern teaching is tied with representation of different opinions. It would be nice to represent a critical opinion from textbooks of neighbouring countries, if some issues are especially unpleasant. This could be way how to show the common problems and stress the common values of all nations.
  6. We can use our unacceptable past with purpose to stress a hard way, which was made by peoples to reach an understanding as we have today too.
  7. We have to address the controversial and that we cannot avoid talking about wars, however there are other topics possible.
  8. The big nationalities see the World different than the small ones, and the new countries have different points of emphasis than the old ones. Teachers could be better informed about our neighbours and there could be more emphasis on small nations, like for examples the Baltic countries, not only the cold war world powers.
  9. It is important to understand the controversial points of view in history teaching. At first informing and understanding history are not the opposites of each other. The other way round: understanding needs information and the more we understand, the more we want to get information. Knowledge is basis for understanding each other and combating stereotypes.
  10. Countries/continents might increase their profile by historically branding themselves better.
  11. Major issue for all work on history education is how to create an interesting history education relevant and meaningful for the coming generations. The history teaching, for example, is not considered to be linked with nowadays business activities with neighbours, but these relations must promote more interest.