Report from the International Dissemination Conference of the Comenius Project TeacMem – Concepts and Methods for Historical Learning in Memorials and Museums/Learning Memory Culture – November 19 – 21 2012. By Nina Lyng-Vagstein

The conference opened on Monday Nov 19 in the Hamburg University Library and marked the conclusion of the TeacMem Project. First Andreas Körber from Hamburg University gave an introduction on the project and summarized the development of the project from the beginning in 2009 and up to the seminar this autumn. The purpose of the project was to explore concepts and develop educational methods and material that could inspire reflection and reflective learning on memorial culture. A book will be published in 2013 containing articles dealing with different theoretical aspects and didactical methods developed and discussed during the project. Körber also showed a dvd with footage from earlier seminars arranged by different participant institutions in Germany, Denmark and Norway. The footage shown will be cut into a tutorial dvd which will follow the publication. Following Andreas Körber, Cecilia Stockholm Banke, head of the research unit on Holocaust and genocide at Danish Institute for International Studies, gave a lecture on the topic “Memory Culture as a Subject in History Didactics”.

The second day of the conference was held at Neuengamme Concentration Camp Memorial. During the day the participants were split into two groups. The students were taken on a guided tour by Ulrike Jensen, from Neuengamme Memorial, around the Camp Memorial, focusing on the history of the camp, different aspects of the reconstruction and a short introduction to the exhibition on perpetrators “Posted to Neuengamme Concentration Camp”. The students were later given a task based on the method “mini-exhibitions”, asked to choose four images that showed how perpetrators were dealt with in the exhibition. The introduction to and the work with the “mini-exhibitions” were led by Claudia Lenz from The European Wergeland Center and Anne Talsnes from HL-senteret. At the end of the day the students presented their mini-exhibitions in a plenary session sharing their results and reflections on the Neuengamme exhibition on perpetrators.

The other group explored the different methods developed during the project through plenary sessions and workshops. First Helle Bjerg and Katrine Vinther Scheibel at Blaagaard/KDAS gave a presentation of the concept “When I think of WWII I think of …”. Later Harald Syse from HL-senteret led the group through a workshop session with memory cards exploring different ways of relating to history trough memorials. Andreas Körber then gave a presentation on the topic “Theory and Concepts: Historical Thinking and Historical Competancies as Core Didactical Concepts – Trinational Perspective”. Jenny Heggvik and May Britt Wiel Haugland later presented the educational programme of Nordsjøfartsmuseet in Norway in relation to the WW II history of Telavåg. Another workshop, led by Ulrikke Pastoor from Hamburg University, explored and reflected on the concept of perpetrators through the use of picture cards.

The last day of the conference were held at Julius Leber Forum/ Friedrich-Ebert-Foundation and was to contain an evaluation of the project. The evaluations and comments where divided in two. First the students, with one representative from each of the participating countries, were to share their thoughts and reflections. They pointed out that the project had made them aware of how different each country related to the Second World War, for example seen through which words and concepts were considered acceptable or unacceptable in each country. The students found the different methods developed and explored in the project interesting, but they were uncertain how they could be used in classrooms. Therefore they commented that the project lacked the participation of schoolteachers who could have supplied the project with experience on how the methods worked with pupils.

The second part of the evaluation was held by Joke van der Leeuw-Roord fram Euroclio and Kristin Skinstad van der Kooij from Oslo and Akershus Univeristy College of Applied Science. Both remarked that they found the project interesting and inspiring. They agreed with the students that the participation of school teachers in the project would have added a useful dimension to the development of the methods within the project. They also draw lines to related theoretical concepts and ways to relate to history within a interdisciplinary and broader European context.


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