Theme G & M
History making and teaching is always prone
to ethnocentrism, nationalism and sometimes xenophobia.
While playing an important role in one's socialisation and
identity, history, because of the way is taught, often reinforces
prejudices and stereotypes about other peoples or countries.
Inter-cultural education should promote a reading of history
that takes into account different perspectives. There is
never only one truth, and this is even more true in history
than in any other discipline. Listening to, or reading about,
the history of others helps us to a better understanding
of our own history.
• Different readings of history and
different interpretations of historical events.
• Ethnocentrism and nationalism.
• Empathy and promoting a broader
vision of the world.
• To explore different perceptions
of history and history teaching.
• To look for similarities in our
• To raise curiosity about and empathy
with other peoples' cultures and histories.
• To generate a critical approach
to our own history.
- 1 hour.
Group size: Any
• Draw a calendar dating from 1500
to the present on a large board or on several sheets of
• Pins or tape
1. Invite each participant to think of 5
historical dates which are very important for their country
or culture and to write their name on the calendar against
each of the years.
2. When everyone has done this, ask them
to say why those dates are important, what they stand for
and why they have chosen them.
Debriefing and evaluation
Invite participants to say if they found
any dates or events surprising or if they were familiar
with all of them. If any events are unfamiliar to some participants
ask those who recorded them to explain.
Discuss how and why we learn about certain
events in our history and not others.
Tips for the facilitator
This exercise is likely to work better with
younger groups than with older ones. It is particularly
suited for multi-cultural groups although it can also work
well with monocultural ones. In this case, it may be interesting
to reflect upon what makes us remember some dates instead
of others and what influences us.
You may prefer to write the names on the
calendar yourself rather than inviting each person in turn
to write their own.
The activity can adapted and used with a
one-year calendar. Ask people to mark on the most important
holidays celebrated by different countries, cultures, religions,
Suggestions for follow up
Always be aware that what people tell you
may not be the whole story. Work on developing a critical
approach to what you hear and read. Keep on asking questions!
We learn attitudes towards others not only
from what we are taught formally, for example in history
lessons, but also informally by picking up bits of information
from what people do and say and especially from the jokes
they tell. If you are interested in looking at the ethnocentrism
perpetuated in jokes and humour use the activity, the 'Eurojoke
Having looked at the past, why not look
to the future? 'Our
futures' is an activity in Compass that involves
participants drawing, painting and using collage to create
a plan for the development of the area where they live.