Freedom and Identity - Time Travels in Lithuania

Historic surroundings next to us is the most effective teaching and learning resources and toolkits. Time Travel is not only the relation of  contemporary society with the history, but  it can also help to find meaning in everyday life for students, their teachers and other community members.

Vėźaičiai Manor 1888

When Historic Environment Education and Time Travels was proposed and demonstrated by Kalmar läns museum in Lithuania in November 2012, the Vėźaičiai Volmer mansion was the Time Travel object for the first creative workshop. Teachers from project schools together with Vėźaičiai Culture centre, Klaipeda district education centre and Gargzdai museum staff participated in a Time Travel to the year 1888. In May 2013, two groups of students from Dovilai and Vėžaičiai basic schools joined the event.

The goal was to reflect on the independance and identity of Lithuania and to encrease civil courage and opposition in a peaceful way. All the participants dressed up in clothes of that time, got new names and played the appointed role of a servant, worker, foreman or the governor. They had to broom or rake the paths, make flower beds, make decorations, and prepare the complaints. Due to the Time Travel scenario it is an important day for all the people at Vezaiciai manor because of the visit of The Governer. The workers and farm tenants were tired of all hard work and brutal regime. Today is their chance to bring the complaints to the highest authority – the Governor.

Comments from teachers, museum staff and students:

”I‘ve  learned about teaching history in a different way.

”I liked the warm and collegial interaction of all participants.

”I have new ideas for teaching in the future and  was charmed by touching to the historical events.

”I‘ve  realized how a museum can contribute to the education of students.

”I have learned much more about the historical period while ”time travelling”, because I lived in it myself: did the jobs, wore the clothes, sang the songs and was inside the problems of the time.

”This method allows children to look upon their immediate surroundings through ”historical eyes”.

In the concluding meeting, where18 teachers from 8 Klaipeda district schools participated, it was emphasized that history should be taught ”from below“ and it is very important to choose the historical site and significant story close to school and to formulate the key questions connecting today and the past. Though it needs a lot of preparation, the Time Travel method has great benefits, because it ensures good and new relations between teachers and students. The learners realize their responsibilities as individuals when they step into the shoes of a historical character.

Klaipeda district teachers are inspired to continue developing the Time Travel method presenting and discussing it at educational seminars for history teachers in the region. The Education Centre is engaged to make a continued project and apply for potential funding from the Nordic Council or EU fostering the method as a creative means of learning history.

Ramute Sirutiene Director Educational Centre, Klaipeda district, Lithuania