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Teaching Challenges

Moral Dilemmas in the Past and the Present

Historical actors often face moral dilemmas in their lives. Their personal choices sometimes influence great events in history and with hindsight it may seem easy to condemn or praise them. Students often find it difficult to see the grey areas between ‘good’ and ‘bad’. The challenge here lies in teaching students that choices are not as black and white as they may look. Students tend to have a rather black and white perspective on life and history often leads them to think that a collaborator is wrong, while someone in the resistance movement is a hero. It is not easy to get students to see the grey areas between so called ‘heroes’ and ‘bad guys’. It is also difficult for them to envisage the circumstances under which the historical actor took his/her decision and to maintain a distance from their modern perspective on the past.

Learning Activities