BSR Research 2011-2014

BSR Research 2011-2014


The Unitas Foundation and the Museum of Occupation of Latvia started the ‘Different Nations – Shared Experiences’ project to study Baltic Sea Region history awareness and teaching in three studies:

  1. Studying students’ history awareness,
  2. The content of national secondary school history syllabi, and
  3. Teachers’ approaches to regional history

Findings — Students:

  • There is a varying yet rather low level of knowledge of regional history among youth
  • Swedish students stand out as they tend to know less about their own and others’ history while Latvian students seem to know the most
  • There is a positive correlation between visiting and having friends from neighbouring countries that contribute to a stronger sense of regional identity
  • As there is a positive correlation between knowledge of the history of neighbouring countries and stronger regional identity, it is important to promote BSR history education at secondary schools
  • Students perceive the Baltic Sea, the Middle Ages, Hanseatic League, social media, and equality as connecting factors
  • There is less agreement on recent historical events that took place during the Soviet era, thus there is also a need to concentrate on problematic history topics

Findings — Syllabi:

  • In Estonia, secondary school history syllabi rather explicitly suggest topics that relate to the Baltic Sea Region
  • In the Finnish syllabus there are sporadic links to the region’s history: only within two courses is there a mention of neighbouring countries
  • In Latvia, while the syllabus has no mention of neighbouring countries, the complimentary teacher plans have several links to BSR history
  • The Swedish syllabus has no mention of neighbouring countries

Findings — Teachers:

  • Teachers show an interest in teaching BSR history
  • Teachers believe that their students are fascinated by BSR history
  • The majority of teachers already mention the region during different historical periods
  • Teachers show a preference in using new materials on BSR history when offered

Suggestions — Syllabus:

  • It is suggested that BSR topics and new materials be linked to the existing syllabi
  • A 35-hour optional course is suggested in Estonia
  • There need to be teaching materials
  • Teachers need to be trained to use BSR history-related materials

Suggestions — New materials:

  • Both teachers and students prefer a variety of methods and materials
  • Visual material is highly preferred, and interactive methods are also popular
  • Computer and internet use is high among all teachers
  • Other technical equipment like overheads, computers for students and interactive boards are less accessible for Estonian and Latvian teachers, and teachers from smaller localities
  • Traditional text and workbook-based materials should also be created



March 12, 2014