'Teaching Divided Histories' Launches

'Teaching Divided Histories' Launches

More than 70 schoolchildren from the north-west, along with other dignitaries, attended the launch of ‘Teaching Divided Histories’, a Nerve Centre project which is harnessing digital creative technologies with archive video and audio to engage our young people in learning about our recent, and often contentious, history.

This innovative three year project, funded by the European Regional Development Fund under the PEACE III programme, will introduce new curriculum linked approaches to the study of conflict into post-primary schools in both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, and also internationally.

Lorraine McCourt from the SEUPB highlighted how important initiatives such as these are in the context of the PEACE III Programme: 'One of the key aims of the PEACE III Programme, and the ‘Developing Key Institutional Capacities’ theme, is to contribute to the development of a shared vision for society. Pilot initiatives such as the Teaching Divided Histories project will enable us to map the necessary skills and competencies that the professionals involved will require if they are to engage in dialogue with communities on shared issues.'

To date 95 teachers have received training through the project and three schools from the pilot phase were represented at the official launch in the Long Gallery, Stormont on Friday November 9 – St Mary’s College and Foyle College Derry/Londonderry and Moville Community College in County Donegal.

Navanna Doherty, head of history in St Mary’s College said: 'The project has opened up exciting opportunities to enhance pupil learning experiences and widen their understanding of divisive aspects of our history. We have been challenged to engage students more fully with their past through the technologies of today, in preparation for a brighter tomorrow. The Teaching Divided Histories project has excellent potential for students to actively engage with key historical evidence and concepts whilst infusing vital multimedia and communication skills. Significantly, TDH cultivates a greater understanding of historical issues which have long been neglected and misinterpreted and thus will promote respect and balance.'

Emma McDermott, project manager at the Nerve Centre, explained: 'The project launch gave us an opportunity to showcase some of the fantastic digital work produced by the pupils to date, and what better surroundings than the magnificent architecture of Parliament Buildings to hold our first cross-border, cross-community screening. Hosting the event in Stormont allowed us to bring together all the project stakeholders and show or appreciation for their work thus far, in a location which played such a significant role in Northern Ireland’s history.'

The catalyst for this new approach to teaching and learning about conflict is the use of moving image and digital media. The project brings together post-primary teachers from across Northern Ireland and the border counties to develop and pilot a range of innovative education programmes that use film, digital photography, animation, comic books and webcasting to enable young people to explore common experiences of conflict and peace building. These teachers and educators are being trained in a range of creative and critical skills so that they can use moving image and digital technologies within the classroom to liberate and empower young people to engage practically with issues of conflict and division.

As lead partner the Nerve Centre is working in conjunction with the British Council, the CDVEC Curriculum Development Unit, CCEA and a range of other partners, to transfer knowledge and expertise between Northern Ireland and other conflict affected societies on how the delivery of education and learning can be developed to promote a shared society. The international dimension of the project will culminate in November next year during an international conference on conflict, held in Derry~Londonderry as part of the UK City of Culture 2013 celebrations.

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