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Teaching History for Peace: A two-day seminar for Teach for India Fellows


Updated: Jun 10

This seminar was held on 19 and 20 April and facilitated jointly by Shivangi Jaiswal and Meena Megha Malhotra

Teach for India’s invitation to organize a two-day training served as the perfect platform to test our new framework for teaching history for peace within existing school curricula. On 19 and 20 April 2024, we found ourselves amidst a group of 32 young passionate educators eager to explore ideas on making history teaching a meaningful exercise by going beyond rote learning and developing enquiry and critical thinking skills. This was the first time we faced an audience of teachers who work in government schools. They encounter daily challenges that are very different from elite schools. The TFI fellows work with marginalized students who are mostly first-generation learners. We were nervous.


The day began with a very simple but effective ice-breaking activity that sought to establish the fact that diversity of thought and opinions are an integral part of society. But we also wanted to drive home the idea that history cannot be built on opinions. While the teaching of history needs to include diverse perspectives and sources, historical truths can only be established through evidence and a thorough method of verification. This was followed by an activity on recognizing bias in the classroom. We believe that awareness of bias in our everyday life is the building block of inclusive learning. If the educator is unable to recognize her/his own bias, then the most well-written textbook cannot be justly used in the classroom. After using these activities to set the context, we moved into discussing the framework of Teaching History for Peace.

In order to teach history with a focus on fostering understanding, empathy, critical thinking, and a commitment to justice and in order to significantly contribute to the broader goals of peace education our framework suggests adapting the following three concepts, as applicable, to topics that form the high school history syllabus:


  1. Historical Empathy

  2. Justice, Social Equity and Equality

  3. Conflict Resolution-Challenges, realities and possibilities


This was followed by group activities that helped participants imbibe the concepts. They read marginalised narratives of the anti-colonial movement in India, watched a documentary on ‘How colonialism shapes the world we live in’ and analysed a conflict scenario based on religious and ethnic tensions in the fictional nation of Harmonyland. The activities were followed by presentations and a Q&A session, which led to enriching discussions reflecting on the possibilities of teaching history for peace in secondary school.


The following day the participants spent the entire morning working in groups to adapt the History for Peace framework to that of their own and created lesson plans that illustrate the concepts they were introduced to.


Their presentations demonstrated the possibilities and challenges of working through the lesson plan structure, the class size they teach, and the constraints of the curriculum in using the aforementioned themes in teaching history. Each group presented their lesson plans, which were open for comments and suggestions from the workshop participants, following which the workshop facilitator we shared our feedback on their respective lesson plans.


The concluding part of the seminar was a lecture by Dr Pankaj Jha on teaching history for peace. Many participants shared their experience of how the activity made them re-think the topics they have been teaching through a different pedagogical approach.


Shivangi Jaiswal holds a PhD in Modern Indian History from the Centre for Historical Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi. She currently teaches History at the Aga Khan Academy, Hyderabad. She has previously worked with the Integrated Labour History Research Programme of the Association of Indian Labour Historians and V. V. Giri National Labour Institute.

Meena Megha Malhotra is the Director of History for Peace

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