Our 400 1st Annual Mayflower Migration History Challenge!
100 years ago we commemorated with a coin. In 2020 we challenge students to go further and to imagine and lead how we could jointly commemorate the migration of the Pilgrims today, engaging all perspectives.
What is the project about?
In 2020 Leiden (NL) and Plymouth (USA) will witness a lot of activities that signal, celebrate, commemorate, frame and reframe the 400th anniversary of the journey of the Mayflower on which the Pilgrims sailed across the Atlantic. Over the last few years the organising committees have set-up and coordinated numerous rich and versatile programmes, including cultural festivities, academic exchanges and tourism and socio-economic development activities. A lot of cooperation, exchange and partnership has emerged!
But in marking this moment of a shared past, the coordinating organisations also recognise the importance of reflecting on societal tensions today. The story of the Mayflower is the history of migration – mirroring controversial political debates in the present about borders, permits, communities and people who are “others”. The way in which that story is remembered and mythologized is insightful of the utilitarian nature of commemoration, and how one community’s celebration, is another one’s commemoration. One has to only look at the different narratives and perspectives developed in the promotional materials of project and events related to this special year to recognise the dissonance in all what is planned for 2020.
With “Our 400” we want to involve secondary school students (age 14-17) in the activities, not as passive recipients of new programmes and not only as joyful participants in an international conversation, but as creative designers, team-builders, independent plotters and problem-solvers. We invite them to address the challenge resting behind all our activities: How should the migration of the Pilgrims be commemorated together?
Educational stakeholders from Leiden and Plymouth invite students, supported by the teachers, content advisors and a resources website, to form trans-atlantic teams (6 per team max.) and come up with new, innovative, inclusive and well-researched joint ideas. The competition of ideas will be open from February 1st onward. Design thinking methodology is deployed through several teacher training events. Student team prototypes will be reviewed by an expert jury and should be submitted by June 1st. Two teams will be invited to test their commemoration prototypes in September in Plymouth (USA). The winning team will get the unique opportunity to present their commemoration design at the public closure of the year in November in Leiden.
The “Our 400” challenge will be the first Annual Mayflower Migration History Challenge. This once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to impact how we commemorate for inclusion and multiperspectivity offers the educational partners a rich experience to build their partnership and apply the developed design thinking challenge approach to other themes in the shared migration history between Leiden and Plymouth, between The Netherlands and the USA, and between past, present and future.
What is the challenge about?
We are challenging school students (ages 14-17) to design a joint commemoration for the 2020 400th anniversary of the migration of the Pilgrims from Leiden to Plymouth. A joint commemoration design can be a performative activity, a graphic design, a memorialisation, or basically anything.
We will pick two prototype entries to be tested in September 2020 in Plymouth during Embarkation Festival, and one final design to be included in the official programme of the ceremony in Leiden in November 2020.
See: Design Thinking Toolkit © De Leidse aanpak
We expect the winning design to:
- Be sensitive to and show awareness of inclusivity in the history, legacy and memory of the Pilgrims’ journey.
- Be built on historical analysis and with historical thinking skills (e.g. usage of sources, exploration of perspectives, reflection on narratives, eye for chronology and complexity (etc)
- Demonstrate empathy towards various points of view by engaging with advisors and showing how advice was received and processed, or not and why.
- Be original, creative and innovative in showing a different and exciting perspective, approach or method.
Mayflower 400: An Opportunity for Innovative History Education
What are the needs in education?
The UN Sustainable Development Goals identify Global Citizenship Education as one of the key ways to deliver Quality Education in the world. In an increasingly interconnected and interdependent world, the idea is that schools, and with them educational stakeholders such as heritage institutes, help young people understand the world around them so that they may be able to assume their role as citizens.
History and heritage education can help in providing young people with the historical thinking skills and historical consciousness that helps them make sense of how this world came to be. In addition, educational authorities worldwide are making various efforts to reform learning to be competence-based and student-centered, as they seek to make a positive contribution to their 21st century skills (e.g. collaboration, problem-solving, empathy, etc.). This global movement, evidently, is not without opposition. In confronting the challenges of fake news, for example, more and more education professionals call for the re-introduction of the teacher and school as authorities of knowledge, accompanied by pedagogical strategies that celebrate centralized testing and memorialization.
A cornerstone battlefield in history and heritage, as well as broader humanities, education is the role of instilling identity. While global liberal policy makers and professionals push ahead for open, inclusive and tolerant societies based on people’s own understanding of their complex and multi-layered identities, more and more political coin is won out of using history and heritage to instill national pride. These movements, which celebrate national identity, by themselves form essential (positive) values, but also risk radicalizing themselves and their followers toward discrimination, racism and extremist violence. At the same time, the portrayal of a global village past without conflict or cultural tension – let’s say a politically correct history – has for a long time also created a false image of diversity being an essentially peaceful state of society.
This tension between national and global perspectives can be used in education, precisely to educate young people about the power dynamics around the past and its legacy, so that they may shape their citizenship, which increasingly is about how we deal with global challenges (e.g. climate change, migration, conflicts, disinformation) in their own capacities.
History education has come a long way in the last decades. While curricular frameworks usually still provide a chronological knowledge overview, a lot of the learning that goes on is understood from the perspective of learning outcomes. Most of these learning outcomes are developed to equip students with competences (knowledge, skills, attitudes and values) which they need in their lifelong learning path, both as citizens as well as workers. It is easier said than done however, as the subject matter of teaching history is still very much politicized. In particular national policy makers often consider the subject most valuable asset to be its role in defining young people’s national identity, which at times greatly differs from the formative pedagogical mission of educators.
Heritage education, as well, seeks out relevance and significance for all citizens and learners today. This means we no longer look only at celebrated heritage, but also appreciate heritage of everyday life, of culture and counter-culture, or intangible practices and also engage in thorny matters of public policy where contested heritage (e.g. monuments, role of colonial possessions, etc) can be democratically debated. Adapting these kinds of approach to classrooms is a growing area of research, which is in need of more implementation in the education sector.
But history and heritage education are both not simply confined spaces of learning. Given the societal importance of identity, citizenship and remembrance, schools looking to innovate education beyond subject-dominated programmes, more and more position the learner as a interdisciplinary problem-solver of various challenges. In learning by doing, experiential learning and active citizenship, young people are enabled to achieve a variety of learning outcomes, which go over subject areas, such as migration awareness (mixes geography, political science citizenship, history and cultural education).How can teaching migration history help?
Due to the dominant national perspective in education, the theme of migration is rarely handled in full maturity. Usually a group of people is said to have arrived in a place. Their motives may be discussed and their legacy to that arrival. This means that their fuller life stories, their motives to migrate and their experience along the whole journey are left behind. Moreover, migration history is usually framed as a relatively recent phenomenon and tied into today’s migrant populations and with a strong focus on conflict-related migration. Leaving out stories of migration within countries or people moving for love, work or other reasons than conflict or persecution.
The story of the Pilgrims, when taught as a case study in migration history offers students opportunities to explore the reasons for their departure from England, their experiences and perspectives on settling in, and eventually departing from Leiden and the – more well-known, but also to a certain degree mythologised – experiences of settling in what was to become the United States. Not only their views, as available from historical sources, but also the context of transnational mobility, and the impact on people’s lives this had in the 17th century can be explored through this lens. For example, most Pilgrims were agricultural workers in England and upon arrival in Leiden found employment in the booming textile industry, a key feature to the so-called Dutch Golden Age, as well as an entry-point into the history of global trade and the rise of the west. In the Americas, once more, they continued their lives as farmers.
Migration is also a story made important through consequences and legacies. In the case of the Pilgrims, those narratives consist of various voices. Some voices have been strongly present, like the narrative of the tolerant Dutch Golden Age, and the story of the Pilgrims’ thanksgiving. Other narratives, like the loss of gradual and at times dramatic loss of property and life of native American communities and nations, struggle to make their voice and perspective heard. Approaching the past and present through the lens of migration helps students discover multi-voicedness in societal narratives.
How can we use commemoration for students’ historical awareness and involvement?
As a product of European settlement, the USA has a relatively short national history. The role of settler-colonies, with well documented histories, in this respect is very interesting to take as an example of how nations have created their own biographies. The feast of Thanksgiving has provided American people an opportunity to connect themselves to settlers, and take pride in the ways in which these Pilgrims conducted themselves vis-a-vis the native populations. The values transmitted through this form of public history, however, is increasingly challenged by social progressive movements that seek to re-interpret this grand narrative of the US, sparking – in turn – backlash with other social conservative movements who re-affirm the meaning of the story as it had been experienced before the cultural revolutions of the 1960s and onward.
The Dutch Golden Age has a similar position in the Dutch grand narrative, albeit less outspoken, and similar culture wars can be found in Dutch society around the issue of violent, and sometimes genocidal colonialism, the exploitation and the enslavement of African populations. Certainly tensions around the willingness to disrupt comfortable historical narratives can also be found in The Netherlands.
Also in English society, the decolonising of the history curriculum is only really emerging in the recent couple of years and much can be said about the role of Empire as a mythologised historical reference framework which builds into some of the Brexit polarisation with parts of the population equating the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union as a way to reaffirm Empire.
The story of the Pilgrims and how it has been told, retold and challenged over time, in different contexts, in The Netherlands, UK and US, is an opportunity to help students understand the relativity and instrumentalisation of the past, in order to recognise such trends and features in the present. In particular in the United States, unpacking the prominent role of settler’s visions vis-a-vis the strong social tension around issues of belonging and identity, can help make history education relevant and meaningful.
Public history and societal expectations and tensions seem to peak around occasions of commemoration. This may be because of the heightened interest in history, the increased financial investment in research, culture as well as tourism.
How can history offer reflections on cultural, religious and moral issues of today?
Combining the two dimensions above, the story of the Pilgrims can offer citizenship and history educators possibilities to go into more general discussions around political issues today, including cultural tolerance, romantic/grand/utopian visions, freedom of religion in a democratic society, the plight of refugees in the context of increasing economic inequality and climate change, and the rights and demands of repressed groups and minorities to challenge set dominant narratives and remembrance practices, and more.
Understanding how a complex history of power and privilege have helped shape a culture of celebration and why democratisation of public space and emerging inclusivity challenges set notions of traditional remembrance, is very well possible through the (international) lens of the Mayflower 400 events.
An Opportunity for Cross-Border Learning
As the Mayflower story is shared across three countries (and four nations) it offers a unique opportunity for international education. In various capacities, schools and educational institutes are already engaged in using the Mayflower story to internationalize their education, in particular in the 2019/2020 and 2020/2021 school years. However, an overarching international heritage education project with strong exchange and cross-border learning dimension is lacking, while the need to implement such a project has been expressed strongly by all stakeholders.
Cross-border learning, when put as the prime objective of an international exchange project helps to:
- Develop educators’ professional development. Education systems can be very different in different countries, but the pedagogical challenges are rather similar. Because of this variance in context, educators who can take part in cross-border professional development, are enabled to better reflect on their own practice and find immediate sources of inspiration from their colleagues abroad. Moreover, finding the right ways to communicate across borders challenges educators to self-assess and better articulate the challenges they face. All in all, educators’ intercultural competences can be enhanced through active participation (i.e. including planning, conceptualisation, implementation and follow-through) in cross-border professional development.
Concretely, the Mayflower story has a different meaning and educational potential in the different systems. When educators can work together, with their students, on an international level, to create new approaches on how to study, investigate and learn from this story, the process itself enriches their professional capacities and their output has international significance.
- Equip learners with intercultural competences. Traditionally, international exchanges have looked at broadening the world-view of youngsters by having them live and experience life elsewhere. In today’s globalised world, that may not be enough. Why would learners be sent halfway across the planet to live with families who actually are fairly similar, while not interacting at all with diverse societies in the same town? It is therefore more important to look at international exchange as an opportunity to practice intercultural competences both on a local and global level.
Concretely, the Mayflower story, which is about ideals, movement, values and identity, connects very well to aspired intercultural competences which revolve around students’ ability, and desire, to express themselves in cultural forms, engage with one another respectfully and grow tolerance of otherness and diversity.
- Build lasting networks of educators and educational institutes: The planning and executing of a cross-border learning project demands quite some input and investment by educators and their institutes. Subject-matter and activities have to fit existing programmes, which may differ greatly, and permissions and funds have to be secured. These efforts ultimately enable the creation of lasting networks due to the scale of participation and impact on the learners.
Concretely, the Mayflower 400 momentum has already accelerated local and international networking between stakeholders. In order to convert this momentum into viable sustainable cooperation, we consider educational exchanges to be instrumental. Once a programme is set, it can be implemented annually or bi-annually, with a constant cycle of improvement, based on solid institutional support.
Outline of the “Our 400” Project
Heritage, history and citizenship educators use the Mayflower history to apply new methods to breathe new life into an old story, helping youngsters to be confident, compassionate and connected global citizens.
What are the main aims?
“Our 400” aims to champion the innovative and creative spirit of secondary school students by giving them an opportunity to compete and design together a joint commemoration for Leiden and Plymouth which is inclusive and innovative.
In addition to this central aim, the project seeks to:
- Support students’ and teachers’ intercultural competences;
- Provide new approaches to implement design thinking in history education;
- Enhance the commemoration programmes in Leiden and Plymouth with an authentic contribution by the youth;
- Create a sustainable partnership between educational stakeholders in both cities, eager and ready to develop the 2nd Annual Mayflower Migration History Challenge;
- Facilitate an exchange between school students and advisors in various fields.
What are the expected results?
The project will result in:
- Approximately 15 submitted entries of innovative prototypes of commemoration designs.
- Two high quality (semi-finalist) such submitted entries which will be tested with American public.
- One final highly innovative and finalised commemoration design.
- A resourceful website which gathers various links to existing Mayflower 400 stakeholders.
- A network of participating teachers, advisors and organisations.
Which activities will take place?
An international core team of educators and stakeholders (Steering Committee) will physically meet once (and monthly online) define and specify the challenge inquiry, performance criteria, detail the expected Design Thinking steps and requirements, and provide guidance on age-, level- and curriculum appropriateness and linkages. Through the project this core team will maintain online communication and coordination.
Based on the challenge specification, educators will engage their students in selected interdisciplinary project (centered on history and civic education), following the Design Thinking steps. This is done at the individual school level. Educators in the core group will seek to identify opportunities for students to connect and collaborate more closely, at local as well as international levels. To encourage this, local teacher days are organized for sharing best practice (work forms, activities, etc.).
Students put forward the result of their challenge by June 2020. These entries are gathered by the core team and validated. An independent jury (recruited through stakeholders and including parents, citizens, peers, educators, etc.) reviews against a set of pre-defined criteria all these entries by July 2020, and selects the two teams of (max 6) students with the best solutions to the challenge.
The selected two teams participate in a 4-5 day testing journey to Plymouth (US) where they can consult field experts and build their prototypes.
Subsequently, the two team get to finalise their prototypes when they meet in a 3-4 day international meeting in November 2020 in Leiden. Here the commemoration design of the winning teams can be finalised and either performed or presented at the commemoration year’s ceremony. This public moment with a high-level / high-visibility ceremony for the winning student(s) completes the competition. The teachers work together on the challenge for next year and work together on an adapted challenge for the next cycle, as well as are offered professional development (lectures, workshops, etc) on migration history and related themes.
Project at a glance
|February-March 2020||Training phase||-Providing teachers with Design Thinking training|
|April-May 2020||Support phase||-Connecting student teams to advisors-Checking with teachers on progress|
|1 June 2020||Submission deadline||-All prototypes received|
|1 July 2020||Jury meeting||-Two prototypes selected for testing|
|June-August 2020||Exchange Coordination||-Coordinating programmes for students to travel, test their prototype, etc.|
|9-13 September||Exchange and test in US||-Two teams test their prototypes at Embarkation Festival-SC decides on final team|
|7-11 November||Exchange and final presentation in NL||-Final prototypes tested, presented and celebrated in Leiden-Set-up by Steering Committee of 2nd Annual Mayflower Migration History Challenge (including fundraising, new theme, etc)|
Who is involved?
Steering Committee (SC)
The project is a direct cooperation of two cities, Leiden (NL) and Plymouth (USA). The SC includes expertise in history and heritage education, design thinking methodology and the coordinator and partners in the project.
Project Coordinator: Jonathan Even-Zohar (Evenzo Consultancy, on behalf of Leiden400)
- Susan Suèr, Education Expert, Heritage Leiden
- Lineke van Tricht, Design Thinking Expert, De Leidse Aanpak & Bureau Talent
- Remme van der Nat, History Educator, Visser ‘t Hooft Lyceum
- Elise Storck, History Teacher Trainer, Leiden University
- Dr. Christopher Campbell, Assistant Superintendent, Plymouth Public Schools
- Rob Powers, K-12 Social Studies Curriculum Coordinator, Plymouth Public Schools
The core project team is made up by Jonathan, Susan, Christopher and Rob.
We will form a four person jury which directly represents the ‘owners’ of the challenge.
The teachers of the participating students take on them the role to (1) advice and support their students as they join and participate in teams of maximum 6 students from different schools, classes and ages in both NL and USA. They also (2) help the SC with the matching and creation of such mixed, yet balanced teams. As facilitators of the design thinking method of developing commemoration design prototypes, the teachers are (3) invited to take part in three training events.
”Our 400” will create a pool of experts who are ready and willing to provide student teams with advice, perspectives and references. These will include people representing a wide variety of viewpoints on the measure and value of traditionality, inclusivity and/or historicity in previous and coming celebration and commemorations of the journey of the Mayflower in both Leiden and Plymouth.