On October 6 – 7, All-Ukrainian pedagogical seminar organized by the Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine together with “Tkuma” Ukrainian Institute for Holocaust Studies took place in Kyiv. The event was dedicated to the discussion of the revised version of the history of Ukraine and World history curricula for general education institutions.

The event was opened by Yuri Kononenko, Director of the Department of Secondary and Preschool Education run by the Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine (MESU). He stressed the importance of the event and the role of history in patriotic education. The Director of the Department is quoted by MESU official web-site: “It is hard to estimate the role of history of Ukraine as an object for study in education at present time”.

Raisa Yevtushenko, Chief Specialist of General, Secondary and Preschool Education Department at MESU, noted: “We have received many propositions and comments concerning the curricula during panel discussion”. It should be said that lately for the Ministry’s activity it became peculiar to actively consult with general public, to cover the activity and decision making in mass media, to use informational and communicational technologies in discussion of challenging issues.

The seminar program included not only discussions and thought exchange. As part of the event Ukrainian scholars have presented their reports concerning issues of teaching history at schools.
Igor Shchupak, Candidate of Historical Sciences, “Tkuma” Ukrainian Institute for Holocaust Studies Director, briefly told the participants about the activity of XVII Meeting of the Ukrainian-Polish Committee of Experts on the Improvement of School Textbooks on History and Geography, which took place in Poznan (Poland).

According to Dr. Shchupak’s point of view the team-work of artists and writers is the positive experience of Polish textbook creation. “The material is presented in such a way in order not to overload children. An artist creates informative illustrations supplemented by the description”. Dr. Shchupak also draws attention to the manner of presentation of World War II: “The information is presented without unnecessary glorification. The war illustrations in Polish don’t show tanks and victory banners, but injured soldiers and frightened people. This is the image we should form in children’s minds”. However, according to Igor Shchupak, there are many questions to the manner of covering Ukrainian history in Po lish textbooks. “This is the matter of Polish and Russian history context on separation of Ukrainian territories, which are presented as Slavic land”, pointed out the Director of the Institute.

For comparison Igor Shchupak presented to the audience some samples of Russian history textbooks and read out the most vivid examples of history twisting.
Igor Shchupak informed that the Ministry of Education and Science intends to create Ukrainian-German commission of experts on school textbooks curricula improvement, which would help to teach and use the experience of German colleagues in creating of Ukrainian textbooks.

Igor Hyrych, Candidate of Historical Sciences, Head of Department of M. Hrushevsky Institute of Ukrainian Archeology and Source Studies, member of this year’s Ukrainian-Polish Committee stressed that any nation starts teaching its history from the heroic epoch. Modern Ukrainian state came from ancient Kyiv state. “At that very time Ukraine appears, that’s why in our first textbooks, especially by Mykhailo Maxymovych, the author already says that Ukrainian ethnos belongs to Kyiv”.

According to Igor Hyrych, historians have made a huge step to make our history Ukrainian. “In 1980 – 1990s our historiography went the right way. We got our history back”, emphasized the Head of Department of Ukrainian Archeology and Source Studies.

Igor Hyrych turned attention of the participants to the issue of terminology in history. “At present there are parallel notions of Kyivan Rus, Kyivan State and Ukrainian Rus. Our state is based not on ethnographic principle but on eagerness to be a state”, said the historian.

As Igor Hyrych noted, we should not exclude the influence of Normans and Eastern vector; existence of Ukraine and Russia on the edge of civilizations: Catholic or European West, Byzantine Orthodox; the West’s influence on Ukrainian culture, we shouldn’t deny north-east Rus to be the part of Ukrainian history.

During the discussion of school curricula it was suggested that the course of history should not be brought to the political course of events of the past. At present a principle of multiple aspect of the history should be actively realized. The speakers have also emphasized that history classes should not be overfilled with excessive detailing. A child needs to understand tendencies of the world development.