Orientation – learning from history

On the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War, we would like to pose the question: to what extent – and how – we can indeed learn from the past?


This year 2014 is the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War. Reminiscing the start of a conflict is markedly different from celebrating its end. We are forced to think about the causes of war and possible ways of avoiding a similar situation in the future. In a sense we are trying to “learn from history”.

This issue of LLinE asks to what extent – and how – we can indeed learn from the past. We study learning and adult education in conflict situations, in three stages: in conflict prevention, durinOrieng conflict and after conflict as a catalyst for reconciliation. These stages are obviously interlinked as reconciliation is often also conflict prevention. The contributions of the issue all testify that a peace and reconciliation process is always a learning process.

This issue is produced in cooperation with the InfoNet adult education correspondents’ network.

Intime Ontime

Elena Sabirova: Maidan – sketches from a revolution

Elena Sabirova reports from the aftermath of the Ukrainian revolution and the ongoing Crimean crisis. Her reportage, instead of focusing on the events, is centered on how it feels to live in the midst of conflict. She outlines possible roles for adult education in alleviating the ever-present feeling of discord, mistrust and threat.

Dana Moree and Dominika Drahovzalová: Red or blue, both is true

In the Czech Republic 3 people out of a hundred are Roma. But nearly 3 out of ten students in special schools are of Roma origin. The Roma are victims of racial discrimination, and conflict with the majority is commonplace in many parts of the country. This article describes a place of meeting, dialogue and reconciliation between Roma and the majority –a theatre stage.


Deborah Britzman: Thoughts on the fragility of peace

Philosopher Theodor W. Adorno famously set a demand for all education after the horrors of the Second World War: “that Auschwitz not happen again”. Education scholar and psychoanalyst Deborah Britzman offers a brief history of Adorno’s life and discusses why his demand for all education to address the past can be a model for thinking with pedagogy and teacher education today.

Natalija Vrecer: Staying or going? Educational needs of Afghan refugees in Slovenia

In comparison to many other European countries, Slovenia hosts just a handful of refugees – some forty people in 2013. Of these, only five were Afghan asylum seekers. Natalija Vrecer’s research into the learning needs of Afghan refugees reveals that literacy and languge learning are top priorities for the adult Afghan learners –along with the need to know whether they are allowed to stay in the country and put their learned skills to use.


Eleanor Du Plooy, Stanley Henkeman and Ayanda Nyoka: Reconciliation for South Africa’s education system

It is twenty years since the first democratic elections in South Africa where people of all races could cast their vote. Apartheid is gone but its wounds are still felt in South Africa’s education system which is ranked as one of the worst-performing in the world. This article offers an overview of the root causes of the country’s struggling education system and offers innovative solution perspectives, linked to the concept of “woundedness” and the role of reconciliation in education.


Bottom Line: A homecoming

In this article series we meet a European professional and trace the effects of his daily work into a change in another person’s life.

Danish Thore Clausen works for an NGO that helps injured and traumatized war veterans back to normal life. His work has had a profound impact on the life of veteran Per Larsen.

Not one truth but many – Interview with Jonathan Even-Zohar

History education has a twofold task: firstly, to help people understand the story of previous generations, and secondly to help them understand the constructed nature of historical knowledge, argues Jonathan Even-Zohar, director of EUROCLIO, the European Association of History Educators. Even-Zohar sees a sweeping “renationalization” of history taking place across Europe.


Corinna Noack-Aetopulos: Reconciliation: an educational mission – and a possible one

Both formal and informal education are strong building blocks in a reconciliation process, argues Corinna Noack-Aetopulos of CDRSEE, an NGO furthering reconciliation and conflict prevention in Southeast Europe. The Balkans region is no powder keg in 2014, but it is far from calm. Through its projects, CDRSEE is able to contribute to the stability of the region. Best practice examples include multi-perspective history teaching and a hugely successful talk show.


Photo: Annu Hattunen

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