Education and skills: Michael Davies

Education and skills: Michael Davies

Education and skills: Michael Davies

Introduction

Classroom teaching of controversial topics in history has declined over recent years, due to teachers being unequipped or worried to address these topics. In 2016, less than 1% of GCSE History students studied the history of the Middle East. Yet in an increasingly polarised world, understanding and assessing competing perspectives is vital.

"I wanted to find a way to make it easier to bring controversial topics like Israel and Palestine back into the classroom." - Michael Davies, Fellow

Charity founder Michael Davies (CF 2015) was inspired by both his experience as a history teacher and his Fellowship to set up Parallel Histories, an educational charity that helps teachers to introduce controversial topics into the classroom. This new type of history resource uses interactive videos to present competing narratives. These competing narratives use film clips, photos, maps and documents, and teachers challenge students to immerse themselves in both sides of debates. Parallel Histories currently works with 201 schools in the UK and another 23 around the world. It has trained over 200 teachers and had over 400 students through its online debating programme, which saw an increase during the pandemic. As traditional educational publishers have departed the scene, Parallel Histories is now the largest provider of educational resources on the history of the conflict between Israel and Palestine in the UK.

Michael and the team at Parallel Histories have since introduced new historical topics including a history of The Troubles told from Protestant Unionist and Catholic Nationalist perspectives, a history of the conflict between Sunni and Shi’a Muslims and the history of Scotland and England since the Union of 1707. In the long term, Michael intends this work to encourage a change in national education policy, so that the discussion of controversial history will be a normal part of teaching in all schools.

Michael says, “As a history teacher myself, I wanted to find a way to make it easier to bring controversial topics like Israel and Palestine back into the classroom. It’s important that students learn to debate such subjects with an understanding that disagreement is part and parcel of a healthy democracy – and should not be mistaken for disrespect or personal hostility.”

"I wanted to find a way to make it easier to bring controversial topics like Israel and Palestine back into the classroom." - Michael Davies, Fellow

Charity founder Michael Davies (CF 2015) was inspired by both his experience as a history teacher and his Fellowship to set up Parallel Histories, an educational charity that helps teachers to introduce controversial topics into the classroom. This new type of history resource uses interactive videos to present competing narratives. These competing narratives use film clips, photos, maps and documents, and teachers challenge students to immerse themselves in both sides of debates. Parallel Histories currently works with 201 schools in the UK and another 23 around the world. It has trained over 200 teachers and had over 400 students through its online debating programme, which saw an increase during the pandemic. As traditional educational publishers have departed the scene, Parallel Histories is now the largest provider of educational resources on the history of the conflict between Israel and Palestine in the UK.

Michael and the team at Parallel Histories have since introduced new historical topics including a history of The Troubles told from Protestant Unionist and Catholic Nationalist perspectives, a history of the conflict between Sunni and Shi’a Muslims and the history of Scotland and England since the Union of 1707. In the long term, Michael intends this work to encourage a change in national education policy, so that the discussion of controversial history will be a normal part of teaching in all schools.

Michael says, “As a history teacher myself, I wanted to find a way to make it easier to bring controversial topics like Israel and Palestine back into the classroom. It’s important that students learn to debate such subjects with an understanding that disagreement is part and parcel of a healthy democracy – and should not be mistaken for disrespect or personal hostility.”