Ancestors unKnown Nederland: Launching in Amsterdam

 In Curriculum, Education

After a busy summer of curriculum development, the 2017-18 school year is already off to a great start. We’re kicking things off in Dutch classrooms. And next, U.S. schools will be starting soon!

When we originally developed the Ancestors unKnown curriculum, we imagined it could grow organically, adapting to the unique histories and cultural identities of our partner school communities. In 2016, the City of Amsterdam awarded Ancestors unKnown and Stichting Zieraad a grant to bring Ancestors unKnown Nederland to Amsterdam schools. This gave us the opportunity to put the plan for global reach in motion.

Ancestors curriculum in Dutch

Over the past few months, a team of educators, historians, researchers and translators have contributed to the Ancestors unKnown Nederland curriculum. The ambitious effort has resulted in a unique history project for primary and secondary school students.

In ten lessons, teachers are guiding their students through the basics of family history research, from identity reflection and an oral history interview to exploring local archives and researching online. And students are connecting their histories to a broader global context with lessons about “untold histories,” including ancient kingdoms in Africa and Indonesia, freedom and independence movements in Suriname, the Dutch Antilles and Indonesia, and modern migrations to the Netherlands.

Snapshot of the curriculum

The lessons include vocabulary, warm-up activities, classroom and homework assignments for teachers to choose, and prompts for student reflection.

Partnering schools

Ancestors unKnown Nederland is lucky to partner with four Amsterdam schools. In two primary schools, we’re meeting students in groups 7 and 8, ranging in age from about 10-12. In two secondary schools, we’re targeting students in their first and second year, up to age 14 or 15.

Primary schools: St. Catharinaschool and St. Janschool

Secondary schools: Damstede Lyceum and Hyperion Lyceum

Teachers prepare

Our partnering teachers have been giving feedback on the lessons, organizing their schedules, and getting to know the online curriculum. Their commitment to diversifying historical narratives has been clear. And their commitment to their students will mean thoughtful and critical input going forward.

Teachers following an Ancestors unKnown training/prep. (left to right) Alma Nooij (St. Catharinaschool), Dieneke Blikslager (St. Janschool), Elaine Mehciz (St. Janschool)

Kick-off classes

This month, we’ve been kicking things off in Amsterdam classrooms. To introduce students to the concept of Ancestors unKnown, we invited guest lecturers for brief interviews about their family histories. Students are talking about their family stories, the family photos they have at home, and the personal legacies they will create. And the discussions have been engaging!

So far, the primary schools have kicked-off with enthusiasm and curiosity – a perfect combination.


More information?

Stay tuned for updates from Amsterdam!

If you’d like to bring the Ancestors unKnown curriculum or a workshop to your school, contact us for more information.

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