Vol 32 (2012): Special Issue: Making Educational Oral Histories in the 21st Century

The Velvet Revolution: Oral History Projects in Czech Classrooms

M. Gail Hickey
Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne
Lucie Bohmova
Czech Republic History Teacher


How can oral history projects teach students about such abstract concepts as democracy or freedom? The literature reveals effective teaching of historical concepts requires teacher mediation—a finding that holds true for students worldwide. This article describes two middle school classroom oral history projects and discusses how teacher mediation and cooperative group learning led to creation of a Living History Museum in The Czech Republic. Through collecting family and community members’ memories about recent events, students gained knowledge, understandings, and insights not available in Czech history books. Students also began to appreciate personal freedom and the democracy in which they live.