Opportunities to help TLP bring our expertise to Turkish and Greek High Schools.

With the help of a grant from SIAH, the Southampton Institute for the Arts and Humanities, TLP has prepared a Turkish-language Teacher’s Pack for high school history teachers in Turkey. These four lesson plans were trialled at three schools in late 2022/early 2023. We are now planning to build on this experience, at a Greek-Turkish workshop to be held this summer.

For this second phase we will be bringing pairs of teachers based in Turkey and Greece together in Lausanne. Participants will be invited to explain how the Lausanne conference and population exchanges are currently taught in their schools. After a facilitated discussion reflecting on the contrasts between different approaches the teachers will work in pairs to come up with ideas for a suite of teaching and learning activities suitable for use in both countries. These ideas will then be developed into a second TLP Teacher’s Pack, for free distribution in Greek- and Turkish-language versions. TLP is proud to be working with Tarih Vakfi and AHEG to ensure that our resources are accessible and widely-available, for free, to any teachers interested in using them.

As İsmail Demircioğlu’s research has noted, Turkish history pedagogy has struggled to instill the critical thinking skills necessary to foster active citizenship. Students tend to be presented with a monovocal master narrative, without being encouraged to reflect on the role such narratives play in nation-building and identity politics. One teacher involved in our trial put it simply: “The education system in Turkey is generally based on memorization. The teacher tells, the student listens.”

The first Teacher’s Packs were prepared by Dr Elena Stevens, Subject Lead for History at St Philip Howard Catholic High School. Elena completed a PhD in modern British history prior to entering teaching in 2016, and has since established a reputation as a leading innovator in teaching practice. Alongside contributions to the online journal Practical Histories her books include 40 Ways to Diversify the History Curriculum (2022).

Teacher feedback on our first Teacher’s Pack has been encouraging. To quote one participant: “I was teaching the Lausanne conference by rote, not explaining the conditions of the day, and telling it from a single point of view. Now we have taken a multidimensional approach to Lausanne.” It normally takes several years for new historical research to make it to the classroom. In our case, however, research undertaken by our members was brought to the classroom before it was even published for fellow academics! It is nonetheless important to emphasize that our work with schools is about much more than updating the information relayed in class. Rather than simply feeding pupils knowledge, the TLP lesson plans place an emphasis on the skills needed to enable students to sift historical evidence and reach their own conclusions.

If they are to be successful, our initiatives need to foster a culture of co-creation among teachers and university researchers. This summer’s two-day workshop is a further step towards such co-creation. We are now looking for teachers (based in either Greece or Turkey) with the right balance of classroom experience and willingness to experiment. While we are not able to pay participants, your travel and accommodation in Lausanne will be provided at our expense.

The deadline for applications for this summer’s workshop has now passed. If you would like to use our Turkish-language lesson plans in your classroom, however, or have suggestions for future projects, please contact us at info@thelausanneproject.com

The skills of enquiry and critical thinking, both of which are crucial for critical awareness and active citizenship, can be taught to students in history courses. The data would seem to suggest that, in Turkish high schools at least, the teaching of history does not encourage active citizenship.

İsmail Demircioğlu, “Perceptions of Turkish History Teachers”, Int. Journal of Historical Learning Teaching and Research 8.1 (2009).