How to Introduce Gender in History Teaching is a pioneering book about working with gender when teaching history in school. It is thorough, varied and accessible. The first chapter contains a historiography of women’s and gender history, and an overview of what has been published about women’s history in Cyprus, covering both the Turkish and Greek communities. The second chapter presents research on the language and content of curricula, textbooks and other teaching materials, done specifically by the writers for this project. The third and last chapter consists of eight concrete lesson plans covering themes dealing with women’s and gender history, developed by the writing team in cooperation with the UK expert Dr Dean Smart, senior lecturer in history and citizenship education at the University of the West of England.
The book was researched and written by a team of young Cypriots from both the Greek and the Turkish communities: Tegiye Birey, Georgina Christou, Faika Deniz Pasha and Loizos Loukaidis. The Council of Europe appointed me as educational advisor for their work with regard to gender history. The project, which is funded by Norway Grants, started in 2013 through the initiative and with the support of the Council of Europe (History Division) and the Association for Historical Dialogue and Research (AHDR) in Cyprus. Both agencies wish to make history teaching conducive to up-to-date, peaceful and democratic societies with critical and responsible citizens. They believe that the teaching methodology should be learner-centred, with the focus shifted from a collective, sometimes monolithic, perspective to individuals and diversity.
The research presented in the book shows that teaching materials in both the Turkish and Greek Cypriot communities are to a large degree written from a very narrow perspective. Textbooks are dominated by male military or political actors. A more inclusive, multifaceted view and a more analytical approach is needed for deeper historical understanding. Including women, children and various minorities will give a more realistic and nuanced comprehension. It will also bring history closer to home, engaging learners from both genders to draw on the experiences in their own families and local surroundings.
Girls and young women need to be taken seriously as individuals who have an identity that may need confirming, and as young, responsible members of society. They have the potential to add to the democratic process and to become political, social and cultural leaders on an equal footing with men. To fulfil such a potential, it is helpful to learn about the position of women in the past, and to find out how women have contributed to and left their imprint on society, often in difficult circumstances. Reading How to Introduce Gender in History Teaching inspires its readers to lend a hand in this endeavour.
Women –not only in Cyprus, but in the rest of Europe and, for that matter, in the whole world– have until recently been largely neglected in formal historical works. Nonetheless, a good deal has been done in the fi eld –also in Cyprus– as this book shows. Giving women, children and a variety of minorities a fair representation in curricula and textbooks is perfectly possible, if the will to do so is present.
Dr. Elisabeth Lønnå, Educational Consultant, Norway
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