Teacher fellows

Hugh Castle

Chair of Trustees

I’m delighted to have been involved in Parallel Histories from the start, both as Chair of Trustees and as the Head of History in one of the schools which pilots Parallel Histories’ new programmes. My interest in evidence-led student investigation of contested memories evolved while experimenting with different approaches to teaching Anglo Irish history. I was struck by the impact that a dual narrative approach had on deepening students’ understanding. It was during our field trips to Dublin, Drogheda, and Belfast that students began to understand why some communities have struggled and continue to struggle to co-exist. I think Parallel Histories is a powerful innovation which empowers teachers to tackle difficult or controversial historical topics, and helps students understand how history is constructed and the role it can play in today’s conflicts. I really think it gives students a deeper understanding of the past and a sense of how rich and real the past is, – it’s one of the reasons A level students tell me for their decision to study History at university.

Covid has been a challenge for every school and in my school the Parallel Histories programme was one of the things which kept students motivated and engaged. We did a lot of online debating with other schools and as much as I can I’ve involved those students who aren’t usually the first in the class to speak up. I think the impact of debating has been impressive – not just in terms of the skills you’d expect to be improved like making arguments and using evidence, but also in terms of confidence and enjoyment of school.

I’m now on my second Parallel Histories themed Erasmus+ programme and it’s been great to work with colleagues in Ireland, France, Belgium, Denmark, and Germany as they apply a Parallel Histories approach to their own historical controversies.

I run a course in Parallel Histories for the Princes Teaching Institute as part of their Subject Leader training. I’ve been teaching history for thirty years, twenty as head of department at Lancaster Royal Grammar School a selective state school in the North-West of England.

Theo Cohen

French Editor

As the French Editor for Parallel Histories responsible for the expansion of the programme in French speaking countries I have been delighted by the reaction of French students and teachers to this new approach.

As an academic trainer, our network of user schools is growing rapidly as we provide regular training for teachers and the classroom for online and in-class discussions.

I teach History in a lycée in Lyon in France and was 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.

To date, several dozen schools in France and in the network of French high schools abroad have used our videos and our pedagogical proposals to address key issues in the secondary school curriculum and prepare for the Grand Oral exam.

I have graduated from two master’s 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 prospects of the Israeli Jordanian relations.

Stefanie Van Brussel

Belgian Editor

I am a teacher of history and geography at GO! K. Atheneum Antwerp (BE) and I am translating the Parallel Histories approach on ‘Israël-Palestine’ into Dutch and introducing it as good practice in Flanders, and then I hope, the Netherlands:

Teaching history is not about that ‘one story’; the interpretation of historical facts has always led to a canvas of perspectives. To use these and bring them to life, creating empathy for different narratives is a keystone to modern multicultural life and should be implemented in the history lessons at school. The Parallel Histories approach does just that and more! It provides insight in how narratives are being formed, which, in my humble opinion, is elementary to be able to function and understand our wonderful and complex world.

Steve Archer

I have been fortunate to look, listen and learn in both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, in Bosnia and in different communities across England, about the impact of inherited history and witness the power of education to breakdown the rhetoric of grievance and justification for conflict. I have had the valuable experience of sharing professional dialogue with teachers and young people from Palestine and from Jewish, Druze and Arab Israeli communities.

I am privileged to be able to share my personal and professional experiences with trainee teachers across NW England and to collaborate with others across the public and third sectors to craft responses to the news cycle and develop sustainable approaches to utilising education to safeguard our communities.

As Deputy Head at Blackburn Central High School I’m committed to creating safe spaces for challenging discussion and aim to maintain a harmonious and cohesive environment for our students.

In a diverse school population and surrounding community the impact and legacy of conflicts from around the globe are visible. Identity can be both a shield and a sword as the news cycle develops and unfolds around us. Creating identities in common protects us from extremism and enables us to rationally and critically examine the past to make wiser choices for our shared futures.

I am pleased to have found carefully crafted resources and like minds at Parallel Histories and look forward to this valuable work continuing to expand its reach.

Meredith Evans

I’m Head of History at Stepney Green school in East London and I am very excited to be working with Parallel Histories. I was drawn to the project because 99% of our students come from the same background – we are not a very diverse school and that can result in some limitations in what our students experience and understand of the outside world. What I’ve really enjoyed is introducing them to some diverse history with a range of points of view that maybe they haven’t considered before and which they wouldn’t be encouraged to consider outside the school environment. It’s been a really good opportunity for our boys to interact with other schools in debate and to pick up those skills that will allow them to become well-rounded and engaged people in society when they leave us. This represents for us the chance to do everything we can to ensure not just that they do well in their exams but also to ensure that they are receiving a range of information about the world around them and that they are engaging with issues which are going to important later on outside school life.

You can read more about Meredith’s experience in the classroom here.

Zameer Hussain

I am a Religious Education teacher secondary school in Essex, and I have been Head of Department since 2014. I also serve on the National Association of Teachers of Religious Education (NATRE) Executive Committee. I have 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, I won the Jack Petchey Foundation Leaders award for my teaching. I am passionate about teaching RE and for good interfaith relations and I was delighted that our department was awarded an RE Quality Mark (Gold) in 2018. My aim is to give teachers more expertise and confidence in teaching about different faiths and beliefs. I specialize in Shi’a Islam and have contributed to several books, including one on Shi’a Islam for teachers. I also worked with Parallel Histories to create the programme on the history of Sunni and Shi’a.

Al-Yasa Khan

I am Head of School at Abrar Academy in Preston. We are an independent secondary college for boys which combines both an Islamic and a traditional English curriculum. I value teaching history but not the type of history which likes to relegate the individual to the background, preferring dates, statistics and sweeping theories. This is one of the reasons I studied Archaeology at Durham University; to unearth the individual and give history back to them. Through looking at what they left behind, we step into their minds and truly understand the past.

Parallel Histories does exactly that; it takes the humanity in history and pushes it to the forefront. It shows us differing people, with different motives, ideas, beliefs, and views. It teaches us those disagreements are inevitable, but of course this should not prevent from seeking to understand the ‘other’ and engaging in civil debate. History is not there to tell you right from wrong, but rather to give you the tools to make that decision for yourself. In doing so, you find the humanity of both sides and that humanity, no matter what position you take in the end, is the one element that you will share with anyone, no matter whether you agree or disagree.

By learning, we prevent ourselves from repeating the mistakes of the past, enabling our future to be new and not just a rerun of what has been.

Monica McGhee

I am head of humanities in a South Lanarkshire school and a History PGDE Teaching fellow at Moray House, Edinburgh University. I graduated from Glasgow University in 2014 with a First-Class joint honours degree in History and Italian. My undergraduate dissertation involved dissecting medieval Italian sources to study various interpretations of a key figure of the early Reformation, a Dominican monk named Savonarola. Though in my job as a Secondary History teacher, I do not often have the opportunity or time to discuss Savonarola, what stayed with me from my research is that History is made up of so many different interpretations of one event. Too often, young people think that History is a ‘fact’ and I strive in challenging that position. It is the job of a Historian to break down evidence, ask questions of text and look at different perspectives in order to try and reach a conclusion, which in itself, remains yet another interpretation. These critical literacy skills are vital in the discipline of History but are also ever more relevant in the digital world where we are inundated with information and ‘fake news’. I researched this exact topic for my Masters degree in Education, from which I graduated with distinction in December 2019. It showed that through young people being explicitly taught the skills of reading historical sources such as sourcing, contextualisation and corroboration, their critical literacy skills were improved. I have enjoyed working with Parallel Histories as they share my passion for ‘doing’ History properly and putting our young people in the driver’s seat. I know first-hand that this sort of History education can be empowering, enjoyable and transformative.

Colette Mazzucelli

I am Professor Colette Mazzucelli, MALD, EdM, PhD and I teach courses in conflict resolution, radicalization & religion, international relations in the post-Cold War era and ethnic conflict and am a recipient of the NYU SPS Excellence in Teaching Award 2013.

A Fulbright Scholar to France (1991) and Germany (2007), I am the author and/or editor of five books on European integration and transatlantic security as well as a contributor to numerous peer-reviewed journals. My courses have been profiled by the Council on Foreign Relations in Foreign Affairs as well as the CFR Educators Bulletin. I have received eleven fellowships in seven countries, and my biography appears in Marquis Who’s Who in the World 2016.

I am 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, I was named an Ambassador of Peace in recognition of my service as an educator with over twenty years’ experience in technology-mediated learning.

Teresa Cullinan and Michael Bennett

I am Teresa Cullinan, and my colleague Michael Bennett and I are History teachers at St Genevieve’s High School, Belfast. We are delighted to take part in Parallel Histories. Although we have studied the topic of partition before we’re looking forward to studying it from a different perspective. The topic itself is very controversial and it is very important that we challenge ourselves and challenge any preconceived ideas. The pupils are looking forward to looking at this deeply and critically, evaluating source material and coming up with their own ideas and being able to articulate those ideas. The pupils themselves are very enthusiastic. They’re looking forward to debating with students from the North and the South of Ireland, from the UK and Europe. We would also love to meet some of you in person in the near future and so far we have been just really enjoying Parallel Histories programme.

Andrew Dermody

Trustee of Parallel Histories Ireland.

My name is Andrew Dermody and I’m a history teacher at St Finian’s College, Mullingar County Westmeath, and I’m a trustee of Parallel Histories Ireland. I’m really happy to be a new teaching fellow with Parallel Histories, working on the topic of partition and the foundation of Northern Ireland in 1921. When I saw the opportunity come up online, I was really excited by the idea of working and linking with schools in England and Northern Ireland on such a contentious topic that creates great debate, even a hundred years after the formation of the state. With talk of a border poll and perhaps a united Ireland coming in the future, I think it’s essential for students throughout the island to have a real awareness of the opposite side to what their viewpoint may be, and to understand and hopefully respect that viewpoint and get a greater knowledge of it. I think Parallel Histories provides that with their platform for debating. I really look forward to learning everything I can this year and providing my students with knowledge and skills that will help them not just in their studies, but hopefully in later life and that they will remember for a long long time.

Jonny Erskine

My name is Jonny Erskine and I am a teacher of History and Politics and a Head of Year at Banbridge Academy, County Down Northern Ireland.
I am really excited to be awarded a teaching fellowship with Parallel Histories studying the partition of the island of Ireland in this centenary year. Over the last few years we’ve seen the value of studying or restudying events such as World War One, the suffragette campaign and the Easter Rising, being able to revisit and rediscover the stories of these events. I’m really excited for my students getting the opportunity to look at the contentious issue of the creation of the Northern Ireland state, an issue probably still as alive and as contentious today as it was 100 years ago. They’ll have the opportunity to look at original source material, use evidence to strengthen their own opinions, but also be able to empathise with contrasting viewpoints on the topic. They’ll then be able to debate this with other schools which is great because history is always more alive when it comes off the textbook page and into the mouths of the students.

Lorraine Glynn

Trustee of Parallel Histories Ireland

I am a teacher of History and English at St. Joseph’s Secondary school in Tulla, Co. Clare. I’m really delighted to take up this Parallel Histories fellowship, focusing on an issue that I feel really passionate about which is encouraging debate and discussion amongst our students. It’s especially important to discuss controversial topics which still hold quite an important place in society today, such as the Partition of Ireland in 1921. Understanding history is I believe the key to unravelling our shared future on the island and Parallel Histories offers our students the opportunity to look at this issue from different perspectives and engage in constructive dialogue. This opportunity will allow them to develop their ability to empathise, to be objective and to articulate their aspirations in respectful ways. We are really excited to be on board with this initiative and we look forward to participating in some robust debates in the year ahead.

Diana MacDougall

My name is Diana McDougall and I’m head of History at Larne High School in County Antrim in Northern Ireland. I’m absolutely delighted to be involved with Parallel Histories, and in particular to work out how to best teach our shared past and our shared future in this centenary of the Partition of Ireland. In Larne High School we teach the legacy of Partition to our Year 10 students, and we also study Northern Ireland and her neighbours 1969 to 1998 in Year 12 as we follow the CCEA specification for GCSE. At A level, as part of our A2 unit we study the Partition of Ireland, so being involved with Parallel Histories will give us an incredible opportunity to debate the issues surrounding Partition, to look at how we have to share the past, but most importantly how we have to share the future. I’m really excited to be involved and my students are really excited as well, and I’m really looking forward to all the opportunities that being involved with Parallel Histories will provide for me and my students here in Larne High School.

Diane McGarvey

My name is Diane McGarvey and I am Head of History in Blessed Trinity College, Belfast. I am excited to be part of Parallel Histories Centenary Teaching Fellowship as it is a great opportunity for our students to develop an appreciation of the importance of investigating and gaining an understanding of the causes and consequences of the partition of Ireland in 1921. Through our preparation for the digital debates students not only will be given the opportunity to critically evaluate contemporary sources, which is an important skill in their A-Level studies, but they will be challenged to explore the history of the island of Ireland from different perspectives.

Giving students the opportunity to debate with a range of different students, who come from differing backgrounds and experiences, will equip them with the skills to listen and make oral arguments, and recognise that the past still plays an important role in defining the two main communities in Northern Ireland today.

Shellie Webster

Hello, I’m Shellie Webster. I have been working as a fellow with Parallel Histories for several years and will continue to do so for many more to come! I have been involved in implementing their curriculum on the Israel Palestine conflict into our Year 9 curriculum, assessed via their debating program. This has been a fantastic opportunity to embed oracy within our lessons, and our students have thrived and been inspired by the content of the lessons. Our school has also been involved in online digital debating with schools around the world and many of our sixth formers have used materials from Parallel Histories for their course work. We have continued to enjoy the style of assessment Parallel Histories have supported us with and have adapted other KS3 topics to follow the same, dual narrative approach with debates as assessments. I have also been pleased to have been asked to join the board of trustees and am excited by the many amazing upcoming opportunities that Parallel Histories are working on, and our school has been asked to pilot some very exciting new materials! As a small dual faith school on the Isle of Wight, Parallel Histories continues to allow us to immerse our students in a diverse curriculum which exposes them to global histories.

Ann-Laure Liéval

Hello, I’m Ann-Laure Liéval and I am a History and Geography teacher in Lille, France. I am part of the Parallel Histories team where my role is to develop teaching material about the Algerian War of Independence. Of course, I also use Parallel Histories resources in my classes; students prepare debates using primary and secondary sources, where they have to adopt a critical approach to the sources in order to back up their arguments with evidence. Thanks to this, they learn the history of and memory surrounding controversial topics, and they can see that these are complex issues with a diversity of points of view and actors involved. It’s a good way to rebut the populist approach to history that we see in the news, and it is great to see how over time the students get more and more involved and confident in their work in the project.

Elena Stevens

Hello, I’m Elena Stevens and I work at a school in West Sussex. I am really looking forward to working with Parallel Histories, in particular to develop a scheme of work for Key Stage 3 on the Israel-Palestine conflict. This is a topic that I have not taught before and so I’m really looking forward to delving a bit more deeply into the sources. I think for the students that I teach it will be a really good opportunity to develop their appreciation of the fact that history is never value-free and that there are always different ways of looking at things. By applying the Parallel Histories methodology, of looking at the history from both the Israeli and the Palestinian side, I think that students will be able to develop their understanding of the way that sources are used and also to develop their debating and discussion skills.