Multiperspectivity can be defined as a way of viewing historical events, personalities, developments, cultures and societies from different perspectives. It is fundamental to history as a discipline, and it helps students to understand that there are other possible ways of viewing the world than one’s own and that these may be equally valid and equally partial. No one is completely free from their own culture and society, and therefore historical work is by definition partial, biased and contains preconceptions. In an multiperspective approach, students learn that interpretations of the past presented as history contain discrepancies, contradictions, ambiguities and are often the focus of dissent. By doing so, multiperspectivity gives a more complex, but also a more complete and richer understanding of the past. To enable students to extend their views beyond the textbook on any given topic, it is important that they have access to a wider range of resources. These could include other textbooks, primary sources and contrasting historical interpretations. Students need to learn how to analyse and interpret these different and contrasting perspectives. To do this they draw upon their historical skills, for example, they assess the quality of the evidence-base and they enquire about the audience and purpose of a perspective as an interpretation. They also gain an insight into why the past can be so divisive in conflict situations. Perspectives about the past can diverge and contrast so far that they are very difficult to reconcile. Therefore, a multiperspective approach to history contributes to the development of the student as a citizen of a democratic society.
Students go through the process of creating a historical interpretation and thus realise that their interpretation is just one of many that would be possible.
What can a collection of artefacts reveal about how people experienced the First World War?
Students are encouraged to think in a multiperspective way by using and comparing different sources which refer to one concrete event.
Censorship and Information about the November Pogrom 1938
The activity is aimed at shedding light on the cause(s) of World War One and challenges the view that the War was ‘unavoidable’. It takes a nuanced approach to the ‘accepted’ historical narrative and lets the students make up their own mind, in an educated way.
Hawks and Doves: the key players of the descent into war. Discovering multiperspectivity in the origins of the ‘unavoidable’ World War One.
Students learn about the variety of views about Gavrilo Princip’s action on 28th June 1914.
What can memorials reveal about the significance of the assassination of Franz-Ferdinand by Gavrilo Princip to people in power in Sarajevo 1914-2014?
Using knowledge about the historical use of an instrument such as censorship, make the students be able to recognize the attacks to freedom of speech and rights of information in the democratic societies.
How does censorship work in non authoritarian societies?
Encouraging multiperspectivity: through the comparison of different contexts and through the exercise of displacement.
What was forbidden and what was enhanced in women’s image and role under the fascist dictatorships? What about nowadays?
Coping with uncertainty and Encouraging multiperspectivity: in the last activity, students are requested to analyse and compare different sources appreciating similarities and differences in reporting the same event; there isn’t just one answer, but it is aimed to an open debate.
Discover the attitude that Mussolini kept toward the press, starting from his speech to the newspapers editors on 10th October 1928.
Students identify the extent to which life experiences were similar or different in 1945-9 and suggest reasons for these.
What was it like to live in postwar Europe?
Students compare school curricula from different European countries and reflect upon these as deliberate selections.
Understanding what factors can shape the interpretations of history we are taught in school