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History textbooks are sources of collective memory and can thus be read as "autobiographies" of nation-states. History textbooks used to be anchored in national traditions, ultimately legitimizing the rationale of nation-states. In questioning the sole validity of national history, social movements since the 1960s and the process of globalization became the seedbeds for the deconstruction of master narratives. Because of their instrumental character as teaching tools, textbooks in general allow researchers to decipher the normative structures of societies. The information revolution since the 1970s has dethroned textbooks as the sole means of instruction in classrooms, and led to the development of different approaches for the analysis of textbooks. Today's globalizing world demands new reference frames for teaching and learning. In the second part of this article, eight clusters that are pertinent for orientation in the perplexing realities of the present are drafted: challenges resulting from the revolution in information technologies; the changing world of work; contradictory tendencies in globalizing processes; the impact of a new turbo-capitalism with its de-legitimizing impact on political systems; unequal developments leading to an ever increasing inequality on a global as well as on local levels; the increase of worldwide migration and its impact on classrooms; contested memories in societies that reposition themselves in a world that has grown together and re-fragmented at new seams; and finally, the crisis in orientation and values and the personal costs resulting from the perplexities and insecurities of the world.