"My interest in creating Parallel Histories stems from my experience as a high school history teacher over the last 16 years. It’s always struck me that students really gain from exploring the past through different perspectives; it helps them understand why people did the things they did.
I’ve also been struck by how slow the educational world has been to wake up to the opportunities digital technology offers - they are numerous, and enormously exciting. It’s my hope that Parallel Histories, which allows each student to control the pace and depth of their lesson, will play a role in encouraging the education sector to embrace its digital future.
Before becoming a teacher I ran the US arm of a management consulting business and prior to that I’ve worked in sales and marketing for big businesses with global brands.
I spent formative years as a child in Northern Ireland as the Troubles began. I have a very clear memory of my father taking me aged nine to see the aftermath of the previous night’s rioting on Bombay Street in Belfast. The sight of a Catholic family carrying their furniture out of their terraced house with its smashed windows, and loading their possessions onto a lorry to make the move out of a mixed area made a profound impression on me.
I’d seen that people can grow up in the same neighbourhood - on the same street, even - and yet be bereft of any sense of communal feeling, in spite of all the things they so clearly share. Such is the divisive power of conflicting historical narratives. They make for uncomfortable histories, but it is essential we study them."
History is indeed little more than the register of the crimes, follies, and misfortunes of mankind.” Edward Gibbon, the 18th century historian of the Roman Empire
Clearly different historians at different times have chosen to include very different “crimes, follies and misfortunes” in that register. I became interested in learning about why people think the way they do about the past, through reading Gibbon and other past historians in my first year studying History at Oxford University.
Parallel Histories’ emphasis on teaching history through contested narratives seemed a natural extension of this early interest. Its focus on understanding the narratives of others is a useful corrective to a world already noisy with opinions.
The dual narrative approach we take can be applied to many many historical conflicts, but for me the outstanding example of history being deployed to support each side in a long running conflict is the contested history of Israel and Palestine. I was hooked early during a school visit to Israel and Palestine, and I’ve returned many times to the Middle East to learn more. I’ve lived in Cairo and Amman to improve my Arabic and I’m looking forward to learning Hebrew next. My work for Parallel Histories allows me to continue learning about the history and politics of the Middle East, through creating our videos, and in addition I get the chance to observe in workshops how students respond and learn from our new way of studying conflict.
I’m delighted to have been awarded a Winston Churchill Memorial Trust Fellowship to keep developing the work of Parallel Histories.
I am a French teacher of History and Geography from Lyon.
I have graduated from two Masters programs, one in International Relations at the University of Lyon, the other in Geopolitics at the French Institute of Geopolitics in Paris, and completed part of my studies in the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in Israel. I wrote my master’s thesis on the challenges and future prospects of the Israeli-Jordanian relationship.
As a high school teacher, I am regularly challenged by my students' views, passion and sensitivities whilst teaching the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Traditional history textbooks have proved unsatisfactory as they aim to achieve an external "balanced view", leaving out the historically-rooted perceptions underlying the protagonists' actions in the process. Furthermore, teachers may lack the training and tools to tackle this contentious topic.
Therefore, I am convinced of the need to foster an innovative educational approach, both interactive and inclusive, towards this difficult nub of international relations.
That is the reason why I am proud to be in charge of introducing and promoting Parallel Histories to a French-speaking audience.
I also hope to achieve a French version of Parallel Histories. Not simply a translation of the current syllabus, but a genuine pedagogical tool based on French resources enabling french-speaking learners to better understand both Israeli and Palestinian narratives.
Hugh leads the implementation of the Parallel Histories program in schools, is Chair of Trustees and has been involved in Parallel Histories from early on in the project. His interest in evidence-led student investigation of contested memories evolved while experimenting with different approaches to teaching Anglo Irish history-particularly through witnessing the profound and positive effects on student understanding that come with a dual narrative approach during student field work in Drogheda and Belfast. He sees Parallel Histories as a powerful innovation, empowering students in their investigations into why some communities have struggled and continue to struggle to co-exist. By removing key obstacles to teaching controversial topics in school, Parallel Histories also empowers teachers to explore those historical issues that resonate most with students. Through the Parallel Histories process students gain deep knowledge of the topics they investigate and the skills to make them discerning in their judgements. Parallel Histories as a hugely exciting initiative in History Teaching.
In 2018-19 Hugh worked with teachers and students from schools in the North West piloting what has become the Parallel Histories Erasmus+ programme. He also leads a “Subject Leader” course in Parallel Histories for the Princes Teaching Institute. Hugh has been teaching history for 28 years, 18 as head of department at Lancaster Royal Grammar School.
Our talented student research team on why they joined the Parallel Histories project, and what studying conflicting narratives has taught them so far:
“As teachers we invariably encounter a variety of charged or difficult conversations in our richly diverse classrooms. We can struggle with the pedagogy of how to present controversial or contested interpretations of our history. As a former Head of Curriculum at Abrar Academy, an Independent Islamic Boys school, I am delighted to have delivered the Parallel Histories framework for understanding and identifying multiple perspectives. My role was significant in overcoming cultural and religious sensitivities involving the delivery of the project. I am the Diversity Lead for a Mental Health Recovery charity and a member of Creative Communities Group, a volunteering and community engagement group.”
Zameer has been a secondary school Religious Education teacher since 2013, Head of Department since 2014, and is currently serving on the NATRE Executive Committee. Zameer has represented RE teachers, and Shi'a Muslims, in different contexts including at seminars for grant making trusts, in the House of Lords and at various international venues. In 2015, he won the Jack Petchey Foundation Leaders award for his teaching. Zameer has a passion for teaching RE and for interfaith relations. He aims to give teachers more expertise and confidence in teaching about different faiths and beliefs. He specializes in Shi’a Islam and has various credits as an author, including a book on Shi'a Islam for teachers.
Professor Colette Mazzucelli
Professor Colette Mazzucelli, MALD, EdM, PhD teaches courses in conflict resolution, radicalization & religion, international relations in the post-Cold War era and ethnic conflict, and is a recipient of the NYU SPS Excellence in Teaching Award 2013.
A Fulbright Scholar to France (1991) and Germany (2007), Professor Mazzucelli is the author and/or editor of 5 books on European integration and transatlantic security as well as a contributor to numerous peer-reviewed journals. Her courses have been profiled by the Council on Foreign Relations in Foreign Affairs as well as the CFR Educators Bulletin. As the recipient of 11 fellowships in 7 countries, Dr. Mazzucelli's biography appears in Marquis Who’s Who in the World 2016.
She is currently researching the issues that define the state of the field in data collection, including prominent uses of satellite imagery analysis, forensic investigation techniques, and mobile telephony applications, to document human rights abuses in remote areas.
In 2016, she was named an Ambassador of Peace in recognition of her service as an educator with over 20 years’ experience in technology-mediated learning.