Whose Truth? Operation ‘Storm’ and the Battle for Vukovar: discerning fact, opinion and points of view

Core features of the practice

  • Organisation:

    Institution name: Center for Democracy and Reconciliation in Southeast Europe.
    Institution type: Non-profit, non-governmental organisation
    Institution URL: www.cdsee.org
  • Format:

    Instructional material
  • Target population:

    Students, Young people, Educators in formal settings, Educators in non-formal settings
  • Cost (per practice):

  • Setting:

    Other institution, School
  • Themes:

    Remembrance education and/or history education, Citizenship/democracy education, Media literacy, Critical thinking, Teaching and learning methods/guidelines
  • Core activities:

    Group work, Group discussion, Image analysis, Textual analysis

Additional information about the practice

    Target population

  • Number of participants:

    Up to 34
  • Age of target population:

  • Additional specifics:

    Other:, Teachers and students in EU countries, outside of Southeast Europe
  • Components of the practice

  • Topics and objectives:

    The practice utilises the CDRSEE’s multi-perspective history education materials to explore issues of media manipulation, propaganda, perspective, opinion and critical thinking, through the lens of two historical events during the wars of the 1990’s in Yugoslavia. It is suitable for use in history classes, media studies, citizenship education, political science, sociology or other classes broadly within the field of ‘humanities’. The objective is to encourage students to discuss issues, discern fact from opinion, research independently, develop greater media literacy awareness and develop tolerance through looking at conflict from many angles; thus increasing tolerance and understanding that wars create victims on all sides, regardless of who the perpetrators are deemed to be. The practice includes textual analysis, group work, visual analysis, discussion, independent research and teacher-facilitated activities designed to help students explore conflict and the surrounding topics of how war is reported on, how facts can be exploited and how suffering takes place on all sides, through examination of the events around ‘Operation Storm’ and ‘The Battle for Vukovar’, during the 1990s in Yugoslavia.
  • Materials used:

    Written or other published material, Audiovisual material, Online material
    Link to the material:
    1. http://cdrsee.org/publications/education/jhp-ii-model-lesson
  • Material produced:

    Written material
  • Sequence of activities - methodology:

    The methodology allows students to engage in the concepts, history and issues and develop skills, by heuristic learning. The role of the teacher is not that of a lecturer, but rather a facilitator who creates the environment and provides questions and prompts that allow students to find things out for themselves (and thus enhance their abilities to research, analyse, listen, think critically and work in groups). The practice introduces students to a series of concepts through the lens of two historical events. It starts by getting students to share their ideas and knowledge (rather than the teacher telling them) and the teacher assists in organising, defining and ranking their thoughts. These concepts are crucial not only to the practice, but also to wider academic skills and life skills as an active member of a democratic society. The teacher then introduces the historical and geographical context and supports students in approaching primary sources about some disturbing events. The teacher’s role is to elicit and assist students in synthesising ideas, facts, narrative, research and discussions to develop empathy, awareness and to understand that these skills can and should be applied to life (not just an academic exercise). While each lesson is 1 hour, no timings are given for each activity, as each teacher and class is different. Each teacher may choose to spend as much time as they wish on each section, or to miss some activities out entirely, depending on the class (history, media studies, sociology etc), students’ knowledge and their age. However, the sequence of activities is designed to build concepts, introduce context, develop skills and draw these together to apply them to events, so it is not recommended to do the activities out of sequence.
  • Length of activity:

    Up to 5 hours
  • Is the activity digital?:

  • Accessibility and replicability

  • Language(s) in which activity can be delivered:

  • Is specialist knowledge or professional training required?:

  • If yes, which type?:

    Formal educational training and/or certification

Qualitative Details

  • Has this practice been evaluated?

  • Core content knowledge and transferable skills:

    Teachers using this practice will develop skills in learner-centred teaching methods and will enhance their practice of working with students as a facilitator, rather than a ‘lecturer’ in supporting students to improve their critical thinking, research and democratic discussion abilities. These heightened skills are transferable to the teachers’ other classes (other than history) such as citizenship studies, media studies, politics, sociology etc). Students will be able to develop skills essential to active citizenship and media awareness in all areas of their lives, not only those in school (group work, group discussion, media analysis etc) In addition, students will develop crucial independent research skills which are transferable to all other academic subjects as well as in their interactions with social media, community engagement and media consumption in general.
  • Indicators of success:

    While this practice has yet to be evaluated (it is a very new practice) we anticipate that our indicators for success will be repeat demand, positive feedback from teachers, range of subject teachers using it (that is, history teachers, media studies teachers, journalism lecturers, sociology instructors etc etc), the range of countries that the teachers using it come from, and its continued relevance to the current educational and socio-political environment.
  • Educational coordinator contact details:

    Name: Ruth Sutton
    Email address: ruth@cdsee.org


The RETHINK project is concerned with bridging formal and informal education. This section explores the factors that make a practice adaptable.

  • Key factors for successful implementation:

    Subject expertise of presenter/instructor
  • Main challenges to teachers adapting this practice for their students:

    The practice is a model lesson, designed to be carried out in a classroom with minimal requirements in terms of equipment or additional materials. Therefore, little adaptation is needed. However, it requires that the teacher has some experience of learner-centred education and also that the students are able to work in groups with minimal supervision or teacher guidance. Teachers who are introducing their students to this methodology of learning for the first time, may need to do some group warm up activities or use the suggested optional activity (in the lesson plan) to support their students in expressing opinions and not expecting the teacher to hand them all of the correct answers, but rather to trust their own abilities to research, analyse and offer thoughts. Teachers are also encouraged to include additional activities, materials or ideas (or to adapt or not use some of the materials) depending on the age of their class, the topic of the class (e.g a history class may choose for focus more in depth on the historical content, while a class on media studies may choose to look at additional journalistic sources or a class on civic education may work more on discussion and debate skills).
  • Availability of guidance/training/replication materials (and in what language/format currently):

    The lesson plan and all annexes and activities are free and replicable. They are available online in English.
  • Other comments or details:

    The activity is suitable for young people aged 16-18, but teachers can use some of the activities for younger students (ages 13-16) with discretion with regard to the content of the primary sources.