Michael Davies' Story
In 2015, Michael Davies visited schools in Israel, Jordan and the occupied Palestinian Territory to discover a better way of teaching the contentious history of Israel and Palestine.
In 2014, Michael, a history teacher at a state school in Lancaster, took his pupils on a school trip to Israel and the West Bank. He knew that many history teachers avoided teaching the conflict between Israel and Palestine because it was so controversial, but the trip had proved to him that exposing students to controversy could be a great educational experience.
On his Fellowship a year later Michael met with many Israeli and Palestinian historians, including Professor Eyal Naveh, one of the authors of a joint initiative to write a common agreed history. While their project had failed because the two sides were too far apart, they had written a book called Side by Side, which was the two parallel but competing histories placed together on opposite pages.
The book was banned in both Israel and Palestine but well-received in academic circles in Europe, and it gave Michael the idea of creating 'Parallel Histories', a new type of history resource using interactive videos instead of a book.
By using interactive video, Michael tells each competing narrative in its own words, using film clips, photos, maps and documents. This allows the student to make up their own mind, and allows the teacher to avoid having to play the role of referee between the sides.
He raised some initial funding which allowed him to take a sabbatical from his teaching job and move to New York for a year where he could work with faculty at New York University (NYU) and TouchCast, a software start up. He has recruited a team of student or post graduate researchers from NYU, Tulane, Oxford and SOAS, as well as both Palestinian and Hebrew universities. He has also guest lectured for the MA program in Ethnic Conflict at NYU. In June 2017 he was awarded a Margot Stern Strom grant for Innovation in Education from Facing History.
In September 2017 Michael will return to teaching history at school, now part time, so he can continue to make new Parallel History videos. He believes that once the Israel-Palestine series is complete that there are many more subjects that would benefit from this new approach.
His Fellowship gave him the time and funding to explore and develop this new idea, and the confidence to take the risk to make it happen.
Read Micheal’s report here
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