Theme I & M
By exchanging information about their national
heroes, participants can get to know each other better and
have an insight into their different cultures and histories.
• Heroes as elements and symbols
of socialisation and national culture.
• Different readings of history.
• Differences and links between
people from different cultures and ethnic backgrounds.
• To help participants become
aware of different perspectives on shared historical events
and the heroes associated with them
• To raise participants' curiosity
about the history and heroes of other cultures
• To be self-critical about one's
own national history
• To work towards a universal
vision of history
• To reflect about history teaching
and the role of heroes
Any size between 10 and 40 participants
• Flip chart and markers.
• Paper and pencil for the participants.
If the group is large, divide the participants
into groups of 5 to 6.
Start by asking people individually to think
about their most important national historical heroes, particularly
those whom they personally appreciate or are proud of. It
is important to stress, especially if the group is multi-cultural,
that the heroes do not have to be of their present country
of residence, but that they can be of their country of origin
or of their parents' country of origin. Allow five minutes
Now ask the members of each group to share
their choices and to say why those people are or were important
for their countries. Allow sufficient time for a real exchange
of information and questioning.
Ask each group to list the names of the
heroes, their nationalities and, if appropriate, what was
their most important achievement on a flip chart.
In plenary, ask each group to present its
flip chart to the other groups.
Debriefing and evaluation
You should note down which heroes, if any,
are mentioned more than once or appear frequently.
Ask people to say if they enjoyed this activity and then
focus the discussion around the following questions:
• Was anyone surprised by any
of the heroes mentioned? Why?
• Did everyone know of all the
heroes who were mentioned?
• What are national heroes usually
famous for? What human values do they stand for?
• What makes us, or leads us
to, appreciate some heroes rather than others?
• Where did we learn to respect
them, and why?
• Do you believe that if they
lived today their values and actions would make them heroes?
• Do you think the heroes listed
are universal heroes?
• Do you think that everyone
would see them as heroes?
Tips for the facilitator
If the group is multi-cultural it may be
interesting to compose the groups according to the origin
Secondly, if time allows and the atmosphere
is suitable, the groups can make a short sketch of some
historical event which made somebody famous. An element
of competition can be added by asking the other participants
to guess the identity of the hero.
The principle behind the activity, that
heroes exist mainly within a specific national or cultural
framework, works better if the group is multi-cultural.
Age and gender differences in the group will prove also
You may contribute to the activity by doing
some fact-finding about some well-known national heroes.
Since many historical heroes are associated with some war
or battle, it is always interesting to present the image
of the hero from the point of view of the other side.
It might happen that most of the named heroes
are men. If so, it will be interesting to ask why, and to
link the evaluation with issues about sexism, both historically
and at present.
A very interesting variation would consist
of sharing the different national holidays in different
cultures and countries. Why is a particular day a national
holiday? The debriefing could follow as above.
Suggestions for follow up
Other activities which explore related issues
are 'The History Line' and 'My
Story'. If you work with 'Personal
Heroes' you can compare present day heroes with historic
You may like to follow on by looking at
heroes, who transcend national boundaries, for example people
who have fought for human rights or the environment. Ask
members of the group to find pictures of global heroes and
then see what humorous, poignant or informative captions
or speech bubbles people can find to write. You will find
instructions about how to use pictures in this way in Compass
chapter 2 under the activity heading 'Picture
games'. Alternatively, the group may like to test
their knowledge about human rights heroes in the activity
for rights', also in Compass.
Alternatively if you want a different sort
of activity try the board game 'The path
to development' and explore the economic and political
forces which are making history at the moment.