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Reflections on History Education

Easy and Difficult Histories

Ed Jonker

History education inevitably is a thing of the present. During the nineteenth and twentieth centuries it has always answered to problems that were urgent at the time of discussion. This has mostly taken the form of explaining and thus smoothing over painful ruptures in the past. Although nowadays we generally acknowledge this contemporary character of history education, the professional ideal of doing proper, authentic history remains—a desire that is understandable, but compatible neither with epistemological standards nor with public expectations. While teaching instrumental history is not an option, history education cannot live on criticism and deconstruction alone, we need a reflexive presentism that self-consciously confronts the present day—“difficult“ rather than “easy“ histories.

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Remembering or Forgetting?

Accounts of the Recent Revolutionary Past in Dutch History Textbooks for Primary Education in the Early Nineteenth Century Author

Willeke Los

After several decades of political conflict and turbulence, in 1815 the Netherlands became a constitutional monarchy. In the ensuing process of nation-building, history education was considered an important means to instill feelings of national unity and concord into the hearts of children. This article seeks to investigate how this was possible in view of the recent revolutionary past. It analyzes accounts in history textbooks for primary education of the Patriot Revolt against Stadholder William V that took place in the 1780s and was suppressed in 1787, and of the Batavian Revolution that took place in 1795 and put an end to his rule. Although in many cases the historical narratives of these politically controversial events were adapted to suit the purpose of nation-building, the revolutionary past was by no means forgotten.

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Balancing Victimhood and Complicity in Austrian History Textbooks

Visual and Verbal Strategies of Representing the Past in Post-Waldheim Austria

Ina Markova

This article focuses on the impact of images on reconstructions of the past. In order to analyze the function of images in history textbooks, image-discourse analysis is applied to a case study of Austrian postwar memory. The analysis of recent Austrian history textbooks provides insight into strategies by which notions of Austria as both "victim" and "perpetrator" of the National Socialist regime are held in balance. The article also focuses on the intentional framing of iconic depictions of two central Austrian sites of memory, Heroes' Square (Heldenplatz) and the State Treaty (Staatsvertrag).

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Change and Continuity in British Columbian Perspectives as Illustrated in Social Studies Textbooks from 1885 to 2006

Catherine Broom

This paper presents an overview of British Columbia's (B.C.) educational history, interwoven with descriptions of textbooks. Focusing on social studies textbooks, this article explores change and continuity in the history of public schooling, paying attention to whether citizens were conceptualized as active, passive, or patriotic citizens. It identifies four key periods: the establishment of public schools in B.C., the rise of the Progressivist movement in the 1930s and reaction to it, advocacy of Bruner's structure of disciplines in the 1960s, and pendulum swings in philosophic orientations in the latter part of the twentieth century. The article illustrates connections between contemporary philosophies and textbooks, and identifies continuity and change in the content and aims of the textbooks.

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Educating Educators of Memory

Reflections on an InSite Teaching Program

Joanne Sayner

This article reports on a continuing professional development program run by the Imperial War Museum in London for educators involved in teaching about European memories. On the basis of two sites visited in Hungary which were elements of the educational program, the Memorial Shoes on the Danube Promenade and the Memento Statue Park, this article suggests that Alison Landsberg's concept of prosthetic memory can be applied to these sculptural monuments. It explores the political potential of empathy in transmitting diverse European pasts and of mapping individual performative responses to less familiar cultural contexts.

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Im Spannungsfeld von Regionalismus und nationaler Identität

zur Deutung und Vermittlung von Geschichte in katalanischen Schulbüchern

Martina Clemen

The Tension between Regionalism and National Identity When Interpreting and Mediating History in Catalan Textbooks

In den letzten Jahren ist in Spanien in den Medien eine heftig ausgetragene Kontroverse entbrannt über Deutung und Vermittlung von Geschichte an öffentlichen Schulen. Eine vergleichende Analyse von Geschichtslehrwerken (2008-2010) dreier Verlagshäuser verschiedener spanischer Regionen bestätigt die dem Beitrag vorangestellte These, dass die Darstellung und der Diskurs der spanischen Historie bewusst zum Aufbau einer nationalen katalanischen Identität eingesetzt werden. Die Divergenzen in der kulturellen bzw. geschichtlichen Perzeption werden durch einen nuancierten Sprachgebrauch, gezielte Selektion der Abbildungen und Quellen sowie strukturelle Anordnung der Schulbuchtexte sichtbar.

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Justifying Citizen Political Participation in Norwegian Political Education

Kjetil Børhaug

Declining adolescent political participation means that political education has become a pressing public and political issue. In response, much attention is being paid to the way in which political education offers meaningful reasons for individual political participation. Critical textbook analysis may help us understand how political education affects participation. To what extent do textbooks explicitly present justifications for political participation? What kinds of justification are offered? This article analyzes Norwegian social studies textbooks, and concludes that justifications of adolescent political participation are central. Justifications include the individual pursuit of preferences, individual duty in a "contract" with the state, and identities. However, these justifications are also questionable, for they are generally either individualistic or avoid real political movements.

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Learning to Remember Slavery

School Field Trips and the Representation of Difficult Histories in English Museums

Nikki Spalding

Drawing on the fields of education, memory, and cultural studies, this article argues that as important cultural memory products, government-sponsored museum education initiatives require the same attention that history textbooks receive. It investigates the performance of recent shifts in historical consciousness in the context of museum field trip sessions developed in England in tandem with the 2007 bicentenary of the abolition of the slave trade. Analysis of fieldwork data is presented in order to illustrate some of the complexities inherent in the way difficult histories are represented and taught to young people in the twenty-first century, particularly in relation to citizenship education.

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"Mandela, the Terrorist"

Intended and Hidden History Curriculum in South Africa

Henning Hues

This article focuses on how some aspects of the South African history curriculum are interpreted and "lived out" in two South African high schools. The article introduces the history curriculum reconstruction process and its surrounding developments from 1994 until the release of the National Curriculum Statement in 2003. It then focuses on the curricular intentions, which reflect the reorganization of history teaching and serve as a benchmark for teachers. Using empirical data gathered in Afrikaans schools, I describe how classroom practices represent the history curriculum. The data indicates that schools provide space for curriculum modification and the creation of a "hidden curriculum."

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Russian Christ

The Struggle of the Russian Orthodox Church to Introduce Religion into the Curriculum in the First Decade of the Twenty-first Century

Victor A. Shnirelman

Interest in the social role of religion, including religious education (RE), is on the increase in the European Union. Yet whereas Western educators focus mostly on the potential of religion for dialogue and peaceful coexistence, in Russia religion is viewed mostly as a resource for an exclusive cultural-religious identity and resistance to globalization. RE was introduced into the curriculum in Russia during the past ten to fifteen years. The author analyzes why, how, and under what particular conditions RE was introduced in Russia, what this education means, and what social consequences it can entail.