This website provides supplementary teaching material on six periods of European history. The material depicts significant events pertaining to the European Capitals of Culture, Krakow (2000), Vilnius (2009) and Essen/The Ruhr Area (2010), approached via a ‘kaleidoscope’ of multiple perspectives.
The most difficult periods – the ‘Dark Times’ – and also the ‘Golden Ages’ – periods of blossoming prosperity – are presented for each European Capital of Culture.
The ‘Dark Times’ generically comprise the following historical periods:
- Essen/Ruhr Area – Battle of the Ruhr 1943
- Krakow – Communism 1945-1956
- Vilnius – Russian Invasion 1655
The ‘Golden Ages’ generically include:
- Essen/Ruhr Area – Industrialisation
- Krakow – Renaissance
- Vilnius – 16th Century
The portrayals of these historical periods have been created by authors from Krakow, Vilnius and Braunschweig, using 10 topics, and are linked on this website in such a way as to allow for an innovative and multiperspectival approach in addressing ‘European History, Geography and Politics’ in the classroom. Further details are to be found in the didactic commentaries within each topic area.
The Capitals of Culture are linked on this website both thematically and structurally. Thematically, the same five topics are addressed for all Capitals of Culture (or the two same topics are addressed for two Capitals).
It is also possible, thanks to the generic portrayal of historical, geographical and socio-political aspects, to create more links between the teaching units and thus between the Capitals of Culture. During the learning process, the pupils may thus reinforce their abilities to abstract and transfer what they have learned from one example onto another, for instance, and/or address the two from a comparative perspective.
This supplementary teaching material provides pupils with an integrated learning process on all levels, from a cognitive and emotional as well as methodological point of view. The didactic commentaries also work along this principle.
The innovative character of the website is achieved not only through the unusual concept of the Kaleidoscope but also via the selection of source materials and the members of the project’s team, who were able to identify authentic sources in city archives, museums and local administrative offices. The international makeup of the group further provided access to the diverse competencies of the team’s members – predominantly students and young teachers – from a thematic as well as didactic and methodological point of view.
The project uses a generic and generalising division of topics into the cities’ ‘Dark Times’ and ‘Golden Ages’. However, such a black-and-white portrayal of history is, of course, problematic. In this regard, the materials developed by our authors repeatedly break up this generalising and binary structure.
As an additional service, this website provides up-to-date information on the Capitals of Culture, as well as a glossary for the methods employed by the teaching units.