Daring to Teach the Civil War in Lebanon

الجرأة في تدريس “الحرب الأهلية” في لبنان

Abstract:
The national curriculum in Lebanon has remained unchanged since 1997. Not only is the 1975-1990 civil war a highly sensitive historical event, but the national education system has made no effort to engage students or teachers in classroom dialogues about the war. Amira, a history teacher in Saida, designed and developed a unit that pushed her students to employ a historical concept of causation to unravel why the civil war erupted in 1975.
DOI: dx.doi.org/10.1515/phw-2021-18295
Languages: Arabic, English


نشأت أميرة في صمتٍ خلال الحرب الأهلية ، وأصبحت معلمة تاريخ حوّلت فصلها الدراسي إلى مكان آمن للأطفال لدراسة أسباب الحرب الأهلية 1975-1990. وقد اعتمد الطلاب على مجموعة متنوعة من الشهادات التي جمعها زملاؤهم في الفصل ، ثمّ حاوروا مقاتلين سابقين في الحرب.

*الطلاب يكتشفون أسباب الحرب الأهلية:

كان للبنان تاريخ من النزاعات المسلحة ، وأبرزها الحرب الأهلية 1975-1990. في عام 2015 ، بدأت بتدريس الحرب الأهلية في  صف  مادة التاريخ. كان هذا ابتكارًا محفوفًا بالمخاطر لثلاثة أسباب على الأقل. أولاً ، تعتبر الحرب الأهلية من أكثر الأحداث التاريخية حساسية في لبنان، فقلة قليلة من المؤرخين (على سبيل المثال حوراني ، [1]2008) يصوغون الحرب على أنها “الحروب الأهلية 1975-1990” بسبب تنوع النزاعات المسلحة الداخلية والخارجية (Albrecht & Akar ، 2016[2]). ولا يزال الذين شاركوا في الحرب ناشطين في الأحزاب السياسية والحكومية ومنظمات المجتمع المدني في لبنان. على الرغم من الوجود المباشر والخفي للحرب الأهلية ،

نادرًا ما نناقش حساباتها في المجال العام. ثانيًا ، الحرب الأهلية ليست في مناهجنا الوطنية. في الواقع ، يقدم المنهج الوطني في لبنان لتعليم التاريخ أحداثًا حتى عام 1946 ، وكمقاربة عامة ، سرد واحد فقط عن الماضي (وزارة التربية والتعليم العالي [لبنان] ، [3]1997). ثالثًا ، إنّ التعرف إلى الحرب الأهلية فرصة لجلب مجموعة متنوعة من الأفكار إلى الفصل الدراسي ، وهي صورة مصغرة عن  المجتمع اللبناني الذي يضم العديد من الطوائف. كما يمكن للطلاب من خلال هذه الوحدة التدرب على تعلم كيفية الاستماع ومشاركة المفاهيم المختلفة التي قد يشكك فيها الآخرون بشكل نقدي. ومع ذلك ، نادرًا ما تتاح للأطفال في نظام التعليم اللبناني فرصة للتفكير النقدي وأساليب التدريس الحوارية ، وبالتالي ، فإن لديهم القليل من الاستعداد لمناقشة الأحداث التاريخية المثيرة للجدل.

في عام 2015 ، قررت تصميم خطة وحدة للطلاب لاستكشاف أسباب الحرب الأهلية في لبنان 1975-1990. ومنذ ذلك الوقت ، أقوم بمراجعة الأنشطة والموارد بناءً على عمل الأطفال وتعليقاتهم. في هذه الوحدة ، ينطلق الطلاب للإجابة عن السؤال البحثي”لماذا اندلعت الحرب الأهلية عام 1975؟” في الدرس الأول ، أسأل الطلاب عما يعرفونه عن الحرب الأهلية، ثم أكلفهم بطرح نفس السؤال على ذويهم. يعودون دائمًا بالعديد من الاجابات  المختلفة ، والتي أجدها قيّمة لأنها تمثل تنوع الروايات والمواقف. بعد ذلك، أعرض لهم مفهوم السببية باستخدام Arthur Chapman’s (2002)[4] Alfonse وهو نشاط الجمل حيث يستكشف الطلاب سبب قصور القشة في ظهر البعير. لإبقاء السؤال الكبير مرئيًا دائمًا ، نبدأ بعد ذلك بتسمية الأحداث الرئيسية ، وكعمل مجموعات ، يذهبون إلى المنزل ويبحثون عن الحدث المخصص لهم عن طريق سؤال أفراد الأسرة والبحث عبر الإنترنت، ثم مشاركة النتائج التي توصلوا إليها في الفصل. بمجرد أن نجمع بعض الأسباب الرئيسية ، أقوم بعد ذلك  بإضافة مجموعة من البطاقات  تتضمن  عبارات قصيرة تقدم أسبابًا مختلفة.  هذه الأسباب تعرض في نشاط مستوحى من نشاط)[5] Christine Counsell 1997) لترتيب البطاقات وفقًا لمدى الصلة والأولوية والتصنيف . يقرأ الطلاب البطاقات وينظمونها ويشرحون لبعضهم البعض، مظهرين علاقة الأسباب باندلاع الحرب أوعدمها، ثم يحددون مدى أهمية هذه البطاقات ليقوموا بعدها بتجميعها في فئات وفقًا للعناصر المشتركة التي يحددونها. بالنسبة للمرحلة الأخيرة من الوحدة ، أتواصل مع مقاتلين من أجل السلام ، وهي منظمة غير حكومية للمقاتلين السابقين في الحرب الأهلية ، وأدعو أحد الأعضاء إلى الفصل. ينظم الطلاب قائمة بالأسئلة لطرحها عليهم، ومن الواضح أنهم يولّدون مناقشات شجاعة تتناول الخبرات والتأملات الشخصية الحساسة. والجدير بالذكر، بأن البعض من أولياء الأمور قد اتّصلوا بالمدرسة ليسألوا عن سبب تدريس الحرب الأهلية، ليأتي ردّ المديرة الداعم لهذه الوحدة، وطمأنة الأهل بأنني أقدم لهم تجربة تعليمية منظّمة قائمة على التّعلّم والاستكشاف.

*لم أجد إجابة عن  أسئلتي:

استلهمت من ورش العمل حول المناهج التأديبية لتعلم التاريخ وتدريسه التي نظمتها الجمعية اللبنانية للتاريخ في عام 2014، مع آرثر تشابمان وكريستين كونسيل اللذين قاما بتيسير سلسلة من ورش العمل حول المفاهيم التاريخية على مدار عام واحد ، استكشفنا خلالها المفهوم التاريخي “السبب والنتيجة”. فانطلقت على الفور للتّفكير في أسباب الحرب الأهلية.

لقد ولدت في المراحل الأخيرة من هذه الحرب. عندما كنت أسأل عن أسبابها أو حتى أتحدث عن أحداثها ، لم أجد من يجيب على أسئلتي. بعد التخرج من الجامعة ودورات إعداد المعلمين ، طُلب مني إعداد وحدة تعليمية تعزز التفكير التاريخي ومهارات البحث. لقد منحني هذا فرصة لتصميم وحدة تُشرك الطلاب في مناقشات حول الحرب الأهلية اللبنانية في الفصل الدراسي في المرحلة الثانوية. كانت هذه خطوة جريئة في بلد لا يزال يعاني من آلام ونتائج هذه الحرب التي ألحقت بلبنان العديد من الخسائر البشرية من قتلى وجرحى ومفقودين. بالإضافة إلى الذاكرة الجماعية الممزقة، بعد أن دمرت الحرب البنية التحتية والقطاعات الاقتصادية والاجتماعية والثقافية والتعليمية والطبية والسياحية.

لطالما تساءلت لماذا لا نعلّم الطلاب روايات عن الحرب الأهلية اللبنانية ؟ وهي فترة تاريخية مثيرة للجدل ، بل فرصة للتعرف إلى بلدهم وإيجاد الحلول المناسبة للمشاكل والصراعات بالوسائل السلمية. نأمل أن نتخطى السؤال المعتاد ، “من أي جزء في لبنان أنت؟” عند لقاء أشخاص جدد. نأمل أن نتمكن من طرح المزيد من الأسئلة التي تسعى بصدق إلى جمع المزيد من المعلومات حول وجهات النظر والخبرات التي لم نكن على دراية بها.

اختراقات

كان تعليم الحرب الأهلية مليئًا بالاختراقات والتحديات. لقد أدى استكشاف أسباب الحرب الأهلية إلى إشراك الطلاب في التفكير العالي المستوى حيث قاموا بتصنيف الأسباب وشرح سبب وكيفية ارتباطها ببعضها البعض مما أدى إلى اندلاع الحرب الأهلية ، ثم كتبوا أسئلة لطرحها على المقاتلين السابقين. كما سررت برؤية الطلاب – ومعظمهم ينتمون إلى نفس المجتمع الطائفي – وقد أنشأوا فصلًا دراسيًا متنوعًا مع الأوصاف المختلفة للأسباب التي جلبوها إلى الفصل الدراسي ؛ إن تنوع الأفكار يعكس بالفعل تنوع المجتمع اللبناني. أخيرًا ، وجدت التزامات الطلاب ومشاركتهم في عمليات التعلم، وكيف استمعوا بعناية وفضول لبعضهم البعض كمؤشرات مهمة جدًا للتعلم الفعال.

ومع ذلك ، أثناء التخطيط لهذه الوحدة وتيسيرها، واجهت العديد من الصعوبات ، بما في ذلك: كيفية التحضير، وتأمين الموارد، وتنظيم مجموعة متنوعة من الأنشطة التي تخدم مفهوم السببية، ومساعدة الطلاب على كتابة ادعاءات حول الماضي (وهي مهمة لم يسبق لهم القيام بها من قبل!). بدأت التحضير للمعركة بعد أن أخبرت إدارة المدرسة بخطتي. لقد دعمتني بقوة ، خاصة أمام أولياء أمور الطلاب الذين فوجئوا بسماع أطفالهم يتعلمون مثل هذا التاريخ المثير للجدل في بلد لا تزال فيه الجراح مشتعلة.

وكالة للتحول

كنت حريصة جدًا على تدريس هذه الوحدة لمساعدة المتعلمين على بناء التفكير النقدي السببي. من خلال تدريس الحرب الأهلية اللبنانية ، شعرت أنني وطلابي كنا جزءًا من ثورة تتحدى أساليب تدريس التاريخ السائدة مثل الحفظ والتلقين والاستماع إلى قصة واحدة من خلال الإجابة عن سؤال بحثي حول الماضي بالاعتماد على مجموعة من الدروس. وبالتالي أصبح الطالب عنصرًا أساسيًا في عملية التعلم ومحركًا حيويًا لها. أيضًا ، لم يعد فصل التاريخ مجرد الاستماع إلى قصة أو قراءة مستند ، بل أصبح جلسة حيوية يتطلع الطلاب إليها لتحليل المصادر المتنافسة والانخراط في وجهات نظر مختلفة. قمنا أيضًا بتحويل طرق التقييم من اختبار الحفظ إلى العمليات التي تصاحب المتعلمين في جميع مراحل الوحدة حتى يتمكنوا من كتابة مطالبة سببية بشكل حاسم بالاعتماد على أدلة من مصادر مختلفة.

_____________________

Further Reading

Web Resources

_____________________

[1] Najib Hourani, The Militiaman Icon: Cinema, Memory, and the Lebanese Civil Wars. CR: The New Centennial Review, 8(2) 2008, 287-307.
[2] Mara Albrecht, and Bassel Akar, The Power of Remembrance: Political Parties, Memory and Learning about the Past in Lebanon. forumZFD and Center for Applied Research in Education at Notre Dame University – Louaize. Zouk Mosbeh, 2016, http://www.ndu.edu.lb/Library/Assets/Files/Catalog/Power%20of%20Remembrance_Eng_Final.pdf (last accessed 16 May 2021).
[3] Ministry of Education and Higher Education [Lebanon], Curricula of general education and their aims. Beirut: Center for Educational Research and Development, 1997.
[4] Arthur Chapman, Camels, diamonds and counterfactuals: A model for teaching causal reasoning, Teaching History, 112 2002, 46-53.
[5] Christine Counsell, Analytical and discursive writing at Key Stage 3, London: Historical Association 1997.

_____________________

Image Credits

By James Case from Philadelphia, Mississippi, U.S.A. – Lebanese Army, Beirut, Lebanon 1982, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=4658052

Recommended Citation

Hariri, Amira: الجرأة في تدريس “الحرب الأهلية” في لبنان. In: Public History Weekly 9 (2021) 4, DOI: dx.doi.org/10.1515/phw-2021-18295.

Editorial Responsibility

Bassel Akar / Maria K. Georgiou

Growing up in the silence about the civil war, Amira became a history teacher who turned her classroom into a safe space for children to examine the causes of the 1975-1990 civil war. The students drew upon a diversity of testimonies gathered by their classmates and a dialogue with a former fighter.

Students and Civil War Causes

Lebanon has had a history of armed conflicts, most notably the 1975-1990 civil war. In 2018, I started teaching the civil war in my history classroom. This was a risky innovation for at least three reasons. First, the civil war is one of the most sensitive historical events in Lebanon. Very few historians (e.g. Hourani[1]) coin the war as the “1975-1990 civil wars” because of the diversity of internal and external armed conflicts.[2] Those who participated in the war are still active in political parties, government and civil society organizations in Lebanon. Despite the direct and hidden presences of the civil war, we rarely discuss its accounts in the public sphere. Second, the civil war is not in our national curriculum. Indeed, the national curriculum in Lebanon for history education presents events until 1946 and, as a general approach, only one narrative about the past.[3] Third, learning about the civil war was an opportunity to bring a diversity of ideas into the classroom, a microcosm of the Lebanese society that includes many sects. Students can practice learning how to listen to and share different understandings that others may critically question. However, children in the Lebanese education system rarely have an opportunity for critical thinking and dialogic pedagogies and, thus, have little preparation for discussing controversial historical events.

In 2018, I decided to design a unit plan for students to explore the causes of the 1975-1990 civil war in Lebanon. Every year since then, I revise the activities and resources based on the children’s work and feedback. In this unit, students are set out to answer the inquiry question, “Why did the civil war break out in 1975?” For the first lesson, I ask the students what they know about the civil war and then assign them to ask their parents the same question. They always come back with so many different responses, which I find valuable because they represent the diversity of narratives and positions. Then, I introduce the concept of causation using Arthur Chapman’s Alfonse the camel[4] activity where students explore why the straw broke the camel’s back. Keeping the big question always visible, we then start naming key events and, in groups, they go home and research their assigned event by asking family members and researching online and then share their findings in class. Once we have collected some key causes, I then add to the collection and create a collection of cards with short phrases presenting different causes. Inspired by Christine Counsell’s activity of arranging cards according to relevance, priority and categorization,[5] the students read and organize the cards and explain to each other why they found some very relevant and others not. They also group them in categories according to common elements they identify. For the final phase of the unit, I contact Fighters for Peace, a non-governmental organization of former fighters in the civil war, and invite one of the members to the classroom. The students organize a list of questions to ask and they clearly generate brave discussions inquiring into sensitive personal experiences and reflections. Some parents did call the school to ask why we were teaching the civil war. Fortunately, the principal is supportive and reassures parents that I provide them with a highly structured yet exploratory learning experience.

No Answers to my Questions

I was first inspired by workshops on disciplinary approaches to learning and teaching history organized by the Lebanese Association for History in 2014. With Arthur Chapman and Christine Counsell facilitating a series of workshops on historical concepts over a one-year period, we explored the historical concept “cause and consequence”. Immediately, I thought of the causes of the civil war.

I was born during the final stages of this war. When I used to ask about its causes or even talk about its events, I could not find anyone to answer my questions. After graduating from university and teacher education courses, I was asked to prepare an educational unit that strengthened historical thinking and research skills. This gave me the opportunity to design a unit that engaged students in discussions about the Lebanese Civil War in the secondary school classroom. This was a bold move in a country that still suffers from the pain and the outcomes of this war, which inflicted Lebanon with a very high number of human losses, including the dead, wounded and missing. In addition to the scarred collective memory, the war damaged infrastructure and the economic, social, cultural, educational, medical and tourism sectors.

I always wondered why we do not teach students accounts of the Lebanese civil war, a contentious period of history but an opportunity to learn about their country and approaches to solve problems and conflict by peaceful means. Hopefully, we can skip the usual question, “Which part of Lebanon are you from?” when meeting new people in order to identify the person to a religious or political sect. Hopefully, we can ask more questions that genuinely seek to gather more information about perspectives and experiences we are unfamiliar with.

Breakthroughs

Teaching the civil war was full of breakthroughs and challenges. Exploring causes of the civil war engaged the students in higher-order thinking. They classified causes, explained why and how they related to each other in leading to the outbreak of the civil war and wrote questions to ask the former fighters. I was also pleased to see how the students – most of whom come from the same sectarian community – created a classroom of diversity with the different descriptions of causes they brought to the classroom; the diversity of ideas indeed reflected the diversity of the Lebanese society. Finally, I found the students’ commitments, their engagement in the learning processes and how they listened carefully and curiously to each other as very important indicators of effective learning.

In planning and facilitating this unit, however, I faced many difficulties, including: how to prepare, securing resources, organizing a diversity of activities that serve the concept of causation and helping the students write claims about the past (a task they have never done before!). I began preparing for the battle after I told the school administration of my plan; they strongly supported me, especially in front of the students’ parents who were surprised to hear their children were learning such a controversial history in a country where wounds are still burning.

Agency to Transform

I was very keen in teaching this unit to help learners build causal critical thinking. By teaching the Lebanese Civil War, I felt my students and I were part of a revolution that challenges dominant history pedagogies such as memorization, indoctrination and listening to a single story by answering a research question about the past through a set of lessons. Consequently, the student became an essential element in the learning process and its vital engine. Also, the history class is no longer just listening to a story or reading a document, but rather it has become a vital session that students look forward to analysing competing sources and engaging with different points of view. We also transformed assessment methods from testing memorization to processes that accompany learners in all stages of the unit so they can critically write a causal claim drawing on evidence from various sources.

_____________________

Further Reading

Web Resources

_____________________

[1] Najib Hourani, The Militiaman Icon: Cinema, Memory, and the Lebanese Civil Wars. CR: The New Centennial Review, 8(2) 2008, 287-307.
[2] Mara Albrecht, and Bassel Akar, The Power of Remembrance: Political Parties, Memory and Learning about the Past in Lebanon. forumZFD and Center for Applied Research in Education at Notre Dame University – Louaize. Zouk Mosbeh, 2016, http://www.ndu.edu.lb/Library/Assets/Files/Catalog/Power%20of%20Remembrance_Eng_Final.pdf (last accessed 16 May 2021).
[3] Ministry of Education and Higher Education [Lebanon], Curricula of general education and their aims. Beirut: Center for Educational Research and Development, 1997.
[4] Arthur Chapman, Camels, diamonds and counterfactuals: A model for teaching causal reasoning, Teaching History, 112 2002, 46-53.
[5] Christine Counsell, Analytical and discursive writing at Key Stage 3, London: Historical Association 1997.

_____________________

Image Credits

By James Case from Philadelphia, Mississippi, U.S.A. – Lebanese Army, Beirut, Lebanon 1982, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=4658052

Recommended Citation

Hariri, Amira: Daring to Teach the Civil War in Lebanon. In: Public History Weekly 9 (2021) 4, DOI: dx.doi.org/10.1515/phw-2021-18295.

Editorial Responsibility

Bassel Akar / Maria K. Georgiou

Copyright © 2021 by De Gruyter Oldenbourg and the author, all rights reserved. This work may be copied and redistributed for non-commercial, educational purposes, if permission is granted by the author and usage right holders. For permission please contact the editor-in-chief (see here). All articles are reliably referenced via a DOI, which includes all comments that are considered an integral part of the publication.

The assessments in this article reflect only the perspective of the author. PHW considers itself as a pluralistic debate journal, contributions to discussions are very welcome. Please note our commentary guidelines (https://public-history-weekly.degruyter.com/contribute/).


Categories: 9 (2021) 4
DOI: dx.doi.org/10.1515/phw-2021-18295

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  1. To all readers we recommend the automatic DeepL-Translator for 22 languages. Just copy and paste.

    OPEN PEER REVIEW

    Prominent Aspects

    As I read this study, I thought that two main topics were presented to the readers’ attention. The first is the context of history education in Lebanon and the second is an innovative history teaching practice conducted in such a context.

    According to the author’s statement, the prominent aspects of the history education context in Lebanon are as follows: The history curriculum deals with the events that took place until 1946, and therefore, the topic (1975-1990 Civil War) addressed by the author in the study is not included in the curriculum. The author also states that the history curriculum in Lebanon is organized within the framework of a single narrative and treated with a more teacher-centered approach. These data suggest that the current context of history education in Lebanon is formed with a traditional educational understanding. The second main issue mentioned in the study is how to approach a sensitive issue such as the civil war in terms of innovative history teaching in Lebanon within the educational context outlined above, and in a social environment where people, who participated in the civil war are still alive and are active in Lebanese political parties and government. The author has reflected on why this topic should be addressed in history lessons based on her personal experiences and professional considerations.

    The information on context provided by the author initially raises the following questions for me: When does the subject of history cover? What period’s events should be included in the history curriculum? In the case of this study, are recent events, for which there is not much reliable evidence to allow a thorough evaluation, to be the subject of history? What are benefits and risks of bringing up such controversial issue in the classroom for students? Since examining these questions will go beyond the limits of this response, the following additional questions are asked to help the readers to come up with an answer for themselves: To what extent is it right to allow students to understand the developments of today’s Lebanon (or the World) only with the viewpoints of the 1930s or 1940s, etc. considering that their lives have been shaped more by the developments of the last decades than by the events of the past centuries?  But when we include issues from the recent past in our history lessons, how can we avoid the manipulation of them by daily politics and events? How should we manage students’ emotions resulting from the issues discussed in class? These questions should, in fact, be explored within a broader context of “the purpose of history education”.

    Education in general and history education in particular in all countries are designed according to certain moral, social and political choices. In addition to the choices governments make when designing history education, there are also choices teachers make based on their professionalism. This is the second major issue that draws my attention in Amira’s text. She provided a great example of how teachers can make a difference despite the barriers created by the curriculum and social context of the country. Despite inquiries from families, Amira was able to take risks and deal with a sensitive topic that is not in her classroom curriculum, which I see as a result of her professionalism. In addition, Amira’s story also shows that situations that may initially be perceived as risks lead to important gains for students when well managed.

    Another point that I find noteworthy in Amira’s story is that the attitudes of school administrators are also important and their professionalism make a difference in terms of taking risks as far as teachers are concerned. It appears that Amira was able to take risks more easily with the support of the school administration.

    One last point that stands out in this text is that properly designed innovative history education training programs make important contributions for teachers to improve their practices. Although teachers in many countries devote significant time each year for in-service training, they are often not reflected in practice. However, as seen in the example of Amira, properly designed and delivered in-service training programmes can make a difference in teachers’ classroom practices.

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