By Sarah McPhee
As a National Resource Center for Russian, East European, and Central Asian Studies, the Ellison Center offers master teacher workshops for local community educators. In cooperation with the Center for West European Studies, the Ellison Center was pleased to host a two part workshop for social studies teachers at the Jackson School on “Europe’s Transformative 20th Century: From a Continent of War and Division to a Continent of Peace.”
Over the course of the workshop, several professors from the University of Washington and Seattle University offered a different lens through which to view the theme of a transformative 20th century in Europe. University of Washington professor of history Dr. James Felak presented a talk on “Europe’s New Order: The Fall of Empires, the Rise of Nation-States, and the Seeds of the Future.” Professor Steve Pfaff offered a more sociological perspective on this theme with his presentation on “Post-War Europe, Communism, and the New Europe.” Both lecturers addressed the multi-layered and multifaceted European identity as well as the complications Europe faces as political and cultural entity in the coming decades.
Digging a little deeper, Seattle University professor and department chair Dr. Tom Taylor challenged teachers to consider the nature of war itself with his lecture “WWI: Inevitable Conflict or Tragic Mistake?” Taking an even more targeted approach, DAAD Visiting Assistant Professor Frank Wendler offered a German perspective on modern Germany with his lecture “After the Fall of the Berlin Wall: Challenges for Germany and Europe.” Wendler explored such issues as conflicting gender roles between East and West, the German approach to the welfare state following reunification, issues of immigration, and its reluctant leader status on the world stage.
Tina Y. Gourd, instructor and coach from the UW College of Education, offered pedagogical support over the course of both sessions, focusing on “Translating Knowledge into Curriculum.” She detailed one approach and three different methods for teachers to employ in their classrooms. Gourd explained the merits of Problem Based Learning, an approach which challenges students to grapple with a large, compelling real-world problem or project focused around a driving question. She also presented three different methods of engaging students in such a project utilizing inquiry, deliberation, and seminars. Teachers were encouraged to break off into groups to share and brainstorm experiences and strategies for employing these methods in their own classrooms. Finally, teachers were invited to offer an evaluation of the two-day workshop which will help the centers provide even more targeted support to local educators in the future.