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ERIC Number: EJ803021
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2008-Jun
Pages: 5
Abstractor: ERIC
ISSN: ISSN-1085-3545
Teaching History and Building a Democratic Future: Reflections from Post-Communist Romania
Ciobanu, Monica
Democracy & Education, v17 n3 p58-62 Jun 2008
Education in Western democratic societies is broadly focused on combining the goals of providing theoretical and practical knowledge with acquiring and practicing the skills of citizenship. In this context, teaching history is more than a linear narration of events, and includes themes and stories reflecting individuals and movements that fought for and helped bring social justice and political equality to their respective countries. In contrast, societies exiting the totalitarian Soviet system perceive education as liberated from government political and ideological interference where teaching history had been made to serve the interests of the party. This freedom, however, is itself problematic: how to teach the past and, particularly, the immediate past. Teaching controversial aspects of a society's history can pose difficult questions even in democratic settings. Many Americans still feel uncomfortable discussing the history of slavery or the treatment of Native Americans. However, in Eastern Europe the debate of the recent communist past raises even more delicate dilemmas since many of the victims and perpetrators are alive and, in the case of the latter, many continue to be influential. The case of teaching history in post-communist Romania represents an illustration of an ongoing discussion of confronting the past and building democracy in which educators introduce a pedagogy of truth and justice in the classroom. This essay describes the Sighet Memorial School (Sighet, Romania), which became a nontraditional classroom setting that provided teenagers between 14 and 18 years old with a unique opportunity to learn about Romania under communism. The format of the school is organized through conferences, roundtables, workshops, documentaries, and music concerts. Since its aim is more ambitious than re-creating a local/national memory of communism, but also to engage in a global dialogue, the pool of guest lecturers transcends national boundaries. (Contains 1 figure.)
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Romania