shifting walls (European history from a youthful point of view) is a continuous Erasmus+ project for schools that combines media education with recent European history.
Thirty years after the end of the Cold War, today’s Europe has reached a much higher level of democracy, with greater freedom of movement and expression. However, this is not the guaranteed status quo. We are still surrounded by imaginary borders, and new ones are constantly being built. Most young people have very little knowledge of recent history. Traditional, textbook-based history lessons often fail to capture the interest of students, lack dynamism and rarely deal with contemporary topics.
The programme is designed to inspire secondary school students aged 11–18 to take an interest in history by telling personal stories and using creative photography.
shifting walls integrates diverse subjects from history and political science to languages, IT, ethics and art.
Teachers are provided with teaching materials developed by the shifting walls team, which address three interlinked themes covering the last 30 years of European history:
For each topic, a teaching toolkit is created with exercises for teachers and students, video lessons and other teaching materials for teachers.
Collecting personal stories. During the project, students interview their relatives, neighbours etc. and find out their personal stories about a particular period.
Exploring historical sites and artefacts. Students explore historical traces in their environment (buildings, ruins, commemorative markers or private items related to the historical period, such as clothes, furniture, toys etc.)
Creative storytelling. After gathering all the information, students tell their stories in a creative way by combining written, audio and visual sources.
Exploring photography. At various stages of the project, students analyse photographs and experiment by taking pictures themselves. For their final project, they create photographs capturing their thoughts, ideas, historical moments and more.
Working in groups. The project is designed to allow students to listen to each other and to understand different opinions and realities. For this reason, throughout the project, students are encouraged to work in groups, discuss the photos and share ideas and personal stories.
Sharing on Instagram. The stories created by the students are shared on the @shiftingwalls_eu Instagram account. This allows students to see social networks in a different light, not just as a source of quick entertainment but also as a space to create and share meaningful stories.
Critical thinking. During the European history project, students learn from more than just their textbooks. They actively explore history and are encouraged to look beyond the content of their textbooks, ask questions, take a critical look at the past, question the present and be conscious about shaping the future.
Creativity. The students are creative in the way they record their stories through images and text. They explore photographs as artefacts or works of art, working with ideas in different formats, such as combining historical material with facts and the creative process.
Collaboration and fostering social and civic competences. Working in groups, the students improve their reflective thinking and problem-solving skills. They develop their own ideas and take the initiative in conducting research, thus becoming the leaders of their projects.
Communication. The project involves students creating authentic texts about history through series of photos. They communicate through images and through social media (such as Instagram). Students also have the opportunity to include personal photos of themselves or their family in the historical discussion. This way, personal stories become part of a bigger story, and students learn to respectfully listen to each other.
Fostering empathy and respect across Europe. Students use history to link the past to the present, covering broader social and civic topics, such as barriers, political freedom or social change. The project is international: European exchange will give pupils the opportunity to learn how history is perceived by different European cultures and how they can learn from Europe’s past difficulties.
Berlin-based organisation Kulturring (Germany), the University of Valladolid (Spain), Kūrybinės Jungtys (Lithuania), the Doukas School (Greece), Sofia University (Bulgaria) and Pestalozzi-Fröbel-Haus (Germany).