Sensitive topics as a challenge for professional development

A two-day online seminar “The study and teaching of sensitive historical topics” organised by the Centre for Civic Education (CCE) as part of the project “Teaching history during the COVID 19 pandemic – equal access for all”, brought together 80 professors of history and social sciences, history educators and researchers.

Through four two-hour modules, participants listened to lectures and took part in workshops on the methodological approach to controversial topics, the manner textbooks in Montenegro and the region deal with the events of the ‘90s. There were also discussions about the study and teaching of controversial topics (with reference to the ‘90s) and the challenge of educational presentation of sensitive issues at war crime sites.

On the first day of the seminar, the first session entitled “Controversial topics in history teaching”, held by professor Sait Šabotić, included a methodological overview of all aspects and challenges of teaching controversial topics in the classroom, as well as the role of teachers and students in mastering these topics together. This session was also attended by a large number of students from the Department of History, Faculty of Philosophy in Nikšić. The second session “The wars of the ‘90s in history textbooks in Montenegro and the region – analysis and comparison”, presented by historian Filip Kuzman, included the evolution of the perspectives of national and regional textbooks regarded ‘90s, as well as a detailed comparison of different thematic and methodological approaches. After the session, a lively discussion opened about the validity of different approaches and the use of adequate terminology when creating lessons for the ‘90s.

The second day of the seminar began with a lecture by professor Rade Vujović, President of The History Teachers Association of Montenegro (HIPMONT). The session “Methodological approach to controversial topics with special emphasis on multiperspectivity and the relation to outcomes”, gathered the largest number of participants and history professors from all over Montenegro. After the presentation of the methodological approach and four workshops dealing with sensitive topics of the XX century, the participants participated in a discussion on the applicability of this method of work. The seminar ended with the lecture “Comparative analysis of how war crimes are presented in museums of Europe, the region and Montenegro”, held by Vukan Ražnatović, historian and curator of the National Museum of Montenegro. This lecture was focused on the presentation and teaching of history at crime scenes, as well as on the educational character of museum exhibits.

The project, within which frameworks seminars were organised, was supported by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Federal Republic of Germany, through the German Embassy in Montenegro.

Maja Marinović, Programme associate