History teaching in Europe

Teaching history

History teaching

Shared histories for a Europe without dividing lines

Nationalist interpretations and prejudice in history have long made of this subject a weapon rather than an instrument of knowledge and dialogue between countries. From early on, the Council of Europe has encouraged its Member States to confront and revise their textbooks in order to dispel the erroneous clichés and interpretations concerning their neighbour states.

Work in the field of history teaching, both in intergovernmental projects or through bilateral and regional cooperation focuses on issues related to the content of history textbooks to eliminate prejudice, on the modernisation of teaching programmes and curricula and on teacher training.

The publication of more objective textbooks, followed by a discussion of history teaching and educational programmes designed to present Europe as a whole, enabled the integration of questions concerning civilisation, culture, and values that had previously been neglected in traditional curricula.

After having helped teachers and students from across Europe to discover and understand their common history since 1989, the Council of Europe aims to promote a lively and attractive historical education which incorporates the study and understanding of great events: the teaching of memory, the prevention of crimes against humanity and the greater appreciation of the European dimension in the teaching of history.

Set history free from political distortions

    “Historical controversies should not hold human rights hostage. One-sided interpretations or distortions of historical events have sometimes led to discrimination of minorities, xenophobia and renewal of conflict. It is crucial to establish an honest search for the truth” said former Commissioner for Human Rights Thomas Hammarberg in a viewpoint published in 2010.


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