Main topic: the breakup of Yugoslavia and Slovenian Independence War Activity Report
Starting a project
After the first meeting, held in Osijek, Lorieta Pečoler, headmistress and history teacher from OŠ Koseze, Ljubljana, Slovenia and Damjan Snoj, deputy headmaster and history teacher from OŠ Preserje, Preserje, Slovenia brainstormed what and how we can do a project. We thought a separate one, but after a while, we decide to do a joint project between our two schools, which will include same methodology, questionnaires, joint analysis of interviews and peer education. We decided on topic about breakup of Yugoslavia, Slovenian Independence War and how people in urban (OŠ Koseze) or suburban or even rural (OŠ Preserje) felt and reacted on the events took place in late June and early July of 1991.
After returning home, we asked our nine graders, seniors of primary school, if they are willing to cooperate and we created project groups. We asked pupils to brainstorm now. They had to come up with the questions for interweaves they are making. After we had questionnaires, we organized a first meeting between our groups, created a common questionnaire, and defined the aims and goals of a project:
The work was set by the ninth graders and their mentors from Primary school Preserje and Primary school Koseze
Interviewing the witnesses: grandparents, parents, teachers
Analysing and summarizing the interviews by the ninth graders
Forming common report
There are some questions, prepared by the pupils, which were used in interviews:
How did you experience the crisis, which predicted the breakup of Yugoslavia?
Which events predicted the breakup of Yugoslavia?
Did you feel the crisis in everyday life? What was it like?
Was the crisis a subject of everyday conversations?
How did, in your opinion, the media report about the crisis?
Was the tension among the people present? Considering the residents of former Yugoslav republic living in Slovenia and intermarriages.
Was the situation sufficiently discussed at school?
Did the teachers raise awareness of Slovenian independence and the importance of it?
How did the schoolmates of mixed marriages and members of other Yugoslav nationalities, living in Slovenia at the time, experience the breakup of Yugoslavia and the war for Slovenian independence?
Which event was the most significant for you?
How did you experience the Slovenian Independence War?
Do you still remember when and where the military operations/armed conflicts took place?
Which event was the most significant for you?
What was the outcome of the war?
When the interviews were finished, we organized second meeting between our two project teams where they went through answers and compared them. They have been searching for differences and similarities and formed the joint report, which was later, when the topic was on, told in class by pupils, not us.
They discovered that the frame was the same everywhere, but reactions were not. They have also discovered that their grandparents felt differently than their parents. For example, the grandparents kept in their memories the arrival of the tanks, traffic jams, increased control everywhere and hindered border crossing. The parents, who were more or less teenagers, in high schools, remembered mostly the JBTZ trial, all day parliamentary sessions in Belgrade and, most important for many of them since it was their first opportunity to vote – a plebiscite. Both generations remember also:
Breaking the sound barrier and barricades on the streets,
Going to shelters,
JLA attack at Medvedjek (Turkish truck),
A helicopter shot down in Ljubljana,
Placatory informing by the minister of Information Jelko Kacin.
They also mentioned that the end of the War was a great relief to all and they remembered it as:
Too many casualties on both sides,
A happy end despite all,
Last remaining JLA soldiers and the military equipment leaving the Port of Koper.
We evaluated the project with our pupils in our teams. Unfortunately, we were not able to organize another meeting since school was almost over at that time, but we found out that the joint project was a success. Pupils got many information about the events by peer education, by using witnesses as a history sources and they developed a need of being critical on different sources. Sometimes the information they got from their relatives were not just the same as the official history explanation is, but at the end they learned that using personal stories in the process of learning is extremely valuable and brings deeper knowledge. They have also learned that historical events were different in different areas (urban/non-urban) although they are less than 20 km away.
The mentors were very satisfied with work of the pupils and their enthusiasm to get more information about the topic. We got an impression that they realized that teenage period of their parents was not as relaxed as theirs.
We are definitely interested in doing projects like this in the future, but we also think, that it might be interesting to do it cross-country. That is another challenge.
Prepared by history teachers
Damjan Snoj, Lorieta Pečoler