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Discussions with History Teachers

This study is a joint project of the International Renaissance Foundation and the Center for Urban History of East Central Europe implemented as part of a broader international research project on “Region, Nation and Beyond: An Interdisciplinary and Transcultural Reconceptualization of Ukraine”.

A history teacher plays a very important role in history education in schools. S/he is the one shaping students’ understanding of the past. Most of the existing research though has focused only on textbooks as tools in transmitting stereotypes or cultivating a tolerant attitude towards representatives of other nationalities. In rarer cases, the focus of research shifts to school students as recipients, while the role of teachers in interpreting textbook information in the teaching process remains unresearched. However teachers, like students, are not a homogeneous group – they vary in values, mindsets, and practices that are often determined by the relevant social environment. Our project aimed to fill the existing gap and hence shifted the focus to school teachers and their personal experience of history teaching. The project’s target audience comprises three groups of secondary school teachers: ‘traditional’ teachers in public schools, innovative teachers, and history teachers in national minority schools.

Based on focus group discussions with history teachers in regular schools and national minority schools in 13 Ukrainian cities (Lviv, Kyiv, Odessa, Kharkiv, Sumy, Dnipropetrovsk, Donetsk, Simferopol, Zhytomyr, Lutsk, Uzhhorod, Chernivtsi, and Chernihiv), we aimed to identify innovative strategies and the degree of stereotypization in teaching history in schools. In the course of the project, we conducted 14 focus group discussions and put them together in an online archive (there’s open access only to their transcripts, language of conversations was either Ukrainian or Russian or both). The field part of the study took place in December 2011 – January 2012. The project was led by Dr. Victoria Sereda.

Reference to the collection: Based on the materials of the UStories project of the Center for Urban History of East Central Europe, collection “Stereotypes, Tolerance, and Strategies of History Teachers”.

Reference to the conversation: Discussion in city/ town, recorded date // Archive of the Center for Urban History of East Central Europe “UStories”, collection “Collection title”, p. page number.

Example: Discussion in Simferopol, recorded on January 23, 2012 // Archive of the Center for Urban History of East Central Europe “UStories”, collection “Stereotypes, Tolerance, and Strategies of History Teachers ”, p. 17.

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Discussions with History Teachers