Teaching Divided Histories Goes Global

Teaching Divided Histories Goes Global

Following a successful training program delivered in Beirut at the beginning of the year, the Nerve Centre’s Teaching Divided Histories (TDH) project has once again gone global, this time undertaking four days of digital training in Calcutta, India. Two members of the TDH team made their way to Calcutta at the end of June for the ‘first of its kind’ international training event with a range of teachers from Bangladesh, Pakistan, Kashmir and Calcutta. 
 
The aim of Teaching Divided Histories is to introduce new approaches to the study of conflict into the school curriculum across Ireland and internationally, primarily showing how teachers can use moving images and creative technologies to engage pupils in the study of conflict. The project is supported by the European Union’s PEACE III Programme, managed by the Special EU Programmes Body while the international pilot of the project is supported by the British Council.
 
Some of the teachers who participated in the training endured a six-day return train journey while others had a multi-flight dash following ‘down-to-the-wire’ visa approval to ensure they made it on time. The Indian based training, hosted by the Calcutta International School, was organised in conjunction with project partners The Seagull Foundation for the Arts, Calcutta and the British Council NI, British Council Calcutta and British Council Pakistan.
 
The Seagull Foundation’s Megha Malhotra said: 'A total of 35 teachers from schools in Pakistan, Bangladesh, Kashmir and Calcutta attended the training. This was the first time, that we know of, where teachers from these countries have come together to discuss how our students can work together using digital technologies to explore the divisions within our countries. 
 
'The training is the springboard to a proposed longer involvement and engagement with the relevant curriculums through partnerships between schools in the sub-continent and schools in Northern Ireland under the British Council’s ‘Connecting Classrooms’ initiative.'
 
Over the course of four days, Nerve Centre professionals delivered training across a range of programmes as teachers learned how to make their own comics, edit movies, record and edit audio and manipulate images. The TDH team also demonstrated how the initiative was having a beneficial impact across Northern Ireland, using the first of its learning resources based on ‘The Troubles’, and how the skills learned could be implemented to help students and young people address their own issues and ideas of conflict anywhere in the world. 
 
PeaceWorks—An initiative of The Seagull Foundation for the Arts, have also developed a resource for teachers that is relevant to classrooms and the syllabus in the Indian context. The module focuses on multi perspectives in the teaching of partition to high school students. With a hands on project-based approach, the module aims to break mindsets and bridge divides in the sub-continent.
 
Emma McDermott, Project Manager with Teaching Divided Histories said: 'The training in Calcutta has really given the project the opportunity to show how schools from divided societies can come together in an international capacity to work towards a common goal. The teachers who attended, especially those from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Kashmir, travelled long distances and many fought their way through lots of bureaucratic red-tape to even enter the country'.
 
'All participants were very keen to come together with like-minded teachers to participate in the training, which we believe can have a lasting and beneficial impact on conflicted societies around the world. Ultimately the project should help to break down barriers of teaching contentious issues in conflict-based societies and allow a new form of exploration in the classroom.'
 
Teachers who participated in the training felt they benefitted greatly from their experience and will now work towards creating new pieces of digital work and sharing their new found knowledge with fellow teachers. Sanchita Dasgupta from Akshar School, Calcutta said: 'This has been a wonderful learning experience – meeting teachers from the sub-continent was wonderful. We look forward to working on this project in future and to perhaps partnering with a school in Northern Ireland.'
 
The Teaching Divided Histories project is currently working on a range of learning modules and training supports for use in school environments. The teachers from this latest round of training will now deliver lessons on the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Movement to their pupils before going on to explore their own conflict in the sub-continent. 
 
Teaching Divided Histories is also being delivered in schools in Lebanon, South Africa and Sierra Leone. More information on the project can be found at www.nervecentre.org/teachingdividedhistories.
 
Schools in Northern Ireland interested in becoming involved with the Teaching Divided Histories project and partnering with schools from Bangladesh, India or Pakistan should contact Emma McDermott by emailing emma.mcdermott@nervecentre.org.
 
Location map