The Chair of World History and its Teaching Methods at the Armenian State Pedagogical University (ASPU) hosted a scientific conference, which was held under the title “Current Issues in Teaching History” and with the participation of specialists, teachers and students in the area of historiography.
Through speeches and a question-and-answer session held as part of the scientific conference, the professional community had an opportunity to discuss the current conceptual issues of teaching history in universities and general education schools and to touch upon the issues related to education about the nation and civic education in the process of teaching history, as well as digital education and other issues related to teaching history.
ASPU Rector Srbuhi Gevorgyan expressed her greetings to the participants of the event and noted the following: “It is nice to see that the University has been proposing specific questions for the past year, and those questions are the following: How do we teach? What are the methods and approaches that should help ensure student-pupil interaction and the effective relationship between the two? The Armenian State Pedagogical University has already organized a few professional events devoted to these issues, and specialists in the area of historiography also have the opportunity to touch upon those issues in this format since there are many challenges ahead.” Rector Gevorgyan also attached importance to the participation of teachers and students which will help identify the homogeneity of perceptions.
Srbuhi Gevorgyan urged to discuss and set aside, in academic circles, the current and most important issues and predetermine the paths for providing solutions with respect to teaching methods.
Dean of the Faculty of History and Social Sciences Edgar Hovhannisyan regrets to note that a scientific conference devoted to the problems with the methodology of teaching history is being organized for the first time. “This is a serious mistake. It is time to approach, better yet, compare and synthesize the methods in the academic, scientific domain; otherwise, one of the sides will be affected since there can’t be science without methodology, and we can’t show an approach to schools only through science. Our mission is to be at that crossroads and bring it all together. We need to have the pretension to make sure what we say is orienting and decisive,” Edgar Hovhannisyan stated and attached importance to the opinions of professors and circles of historiographers with regard to the issues that are heatedly debated now, particularly the criteria for schools and textbooks.
In his speech, Chief Specialist of the Institute of Oriental Studies at the National Academy of Sciences of the Republic of Armenia, Professor of the Chair of World History and its Teaching Methods at the ASPU, Doctor of Historical Sciences Ruben Safrastyan touched upon the reinterpretation of the periods of new and modern history of the Armenian people from the perspective of modernity.
Safrastyan is of the opinion that the era of modernity of the Armenian people has to start from the 16th century, that is, the ecclesiastical assembly, which laid the foundation for the struggle for Armenian statehood and led to the emergence of the idea of restoration of Armenian statehood. In this regard, he attached importance to the role of Israel Ori from the perspective of setting forth the idea of an independent struggle.
In the context of modernity of Armenian statehood, Ruben Safrastyan also touched upon the adoption and application of the Constitution of Western Armenians, the self-defense of Zeytun in 1862, as well as the restoration of statehood in 1918 and especially the Soviet times as a major period of modernization of statehood. The academician recommends incorporating the term “modern history” in history – something that is common in the European and Western historiographical communities. “This is what is happening in front of the eyes of contemporaries. The modernity of Armenian history in 1991 is entering the stage of modern history; this is the main model that I interpret as the new period of history,” Safrastyan added.
The topic “On the need to teach history or why should history be taught” was presented by Head of the Chair of World History and its Teaching Methods Khachatur Stepanyan at the scientific conference.
The professor regrets to note that motivation to learn about history has been declining over the past years. According to him, the reasons for this are the change of priorities of youth in terms of values, the decrease of reputation of historical sciences among the society in the context of the information revolution, the spread of non-scientific ideas and viewpoints on history in the mass consciousness and more.
Stepanyan believes that history teaching is closely linked to the formation of individuality of pupils and a number of qualities. Besides that, history teaching helps advance the traditions of the state, the values of patriotism and national exclusivity. “History serves as an opportunity to know ourselves. It helps prevent the mistakes of the previous generations. Teaching history is necessary from the perspective of the use of historical experience and for understanding contemporaries. Knowing history helps understand how world events were reflected in the lives of people, etc. Pedagogically speaking, teaching history is also necessary to solve a number of problems among schoolchildren,” he stated.
Stepanyan believes teaching history must also be reformed in terms of methodology and substance since this is also required due to the mission to preserve the national identity of Armenians and the need to have citizens of the Republic of Armenia who have honor.
Issues related to the approaches for development of historical thinking and the models for their application, the problems that emerge as a result of technologization of the methods for teaching history and the paths to solve those problems, the organizing of independent cognitive activities for learners in the course of history teaching and other issues were discussed during the scientific conference.
The event also featured a presentation of the anthology of articles of the scientific conference “Armenian Social and Political Thought in the Late 19th Century and Mid-20th Century: History and Modernity” which was jointly held by the ASPU and Hamazkayin Armenian Educational and Cultural Society.
Edgar Hovhannisyan attached importance to the cooperation with Hamazkayin Armenian Educational and Cultural Society, as well as the publication of the book, adding that the origins of Armenian political and social thought become crystallized in that very period.
Hovhannisyan voiced hope that the anthology of articles will provide the opportunity to explore the historical origins and draw conclusions, from the perspective of overcoming the domestic and foreign challenges flexibly and effectively.