The political use and instrumentalization of history is a central theme within the historiography of history education. Neither history nor education is a politically neutral domain; history education is and has always been a highly politicized phenomenon. For his recent article on the development of history education in England, Germany, and the Netherlands throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the Dutch history didactician Arie Wilschut chose the significant title, “History at the Mercy of Politicians and Ideologies.” History education, Wilschut argues, has, in all three countries, continually—with a short break in the 1960s and 1970s—been instrumentalized by national politics to the detriment of unbiased interpretations of the past.
An Historical Approach
Tom Verschaffel and Kaat Wils
Textbooks and Real Curriculum
Marie McAndrew, Amina Triki-Yamani, and Falk Pingel
Textbooks play a critical role in representing and fixing the desired view of society and of intergroup relations in the minds of future generations. As such, textbooks crystallize and translate into a pedagogical form existing dynamics involving the complexity of knowledge and the dominant ideological representations of ethnic or international relations. Studies of teachers’ use of textbooks show that teachers tend to rely heavily on textbooks when teaching less familiar topics, particularly topics dealing with international aspects and dimensions of education.
The words “textbook revision” immediately conjure up certain images. We generally think of conflicts surrounding the contents of textbooks, conflicts which are debated in public and usually have an international dimension. Textbook revision generally refers to books on history, geography and social studies, occasionally also religion or biology. It generally relates to those activities aimed at correcting false or distorted interpretations in school textbooks. In addition, it involves two further aspects: improving the quality of teaching with revised textbooks, and conveying universal norms in addition to knowledge of the subject. History and social studies teaching can thus make an important contribution to peace and human rights education.
Chiara Bottici and Benoît Challand
Both the name Europe and the political entity Europe are relatively recent inventions. Although the name can be traced back as far as 700 BCE, the term in its contemporary meaning only became widespread after 1700 CE. The political entity is an even more recent construct. It was only with the first steps toward European construction in the second half of the twentieth century that the contours of a political community bearing this name emerged, even if its borders were still far from clearly defined. Yet even with the existence of today’s European Union (EU) the meaning of the term remains highly contested. Does Europe mean only the EU? Is it a geographical or a political entity? Where are its boundaries? How did these boundaries come about?
The globalizing world with its entanglements and multiple interactions, shifting notions of place and time, unifying as well as fragmenting tendencies, new forms of boundary drawing, and old and new lines of conflict, influences our lives and public awareness in the “information age.” As far as education is concerned, this situation demands a critical stock taking and new reference frames for understanding this globalizing world, which on the one hand provides great new opportunities and on the other hand generates enormous risks. It requires teachers to offer guidance and teaching materials to provide young people with orientation. Rapidly shifting contexts demand new abilities to act and to maneuver. Collectives and individuals are equally impacted by the uneven processes that are customarily summarized as “globalization.” To understand what is happening in this complex world is crucial. From the perspective of old or insuffi cient reference frames, the world will seem erratic, unpredictable, and arbitrary. Schools as the transmitters of knowledge and as socializing agencies play a crucial role in preparing young people for this world of multiple modernities and development. It is their responsibility to provide orientation and guidance. How well they do this depends on any number of factors, and not least on the quality of educational materials. Such materials, however, are frequently more than simply educational media. They are sources via which the societies in which they are produced and put to use may be understood.
Educational Media in Context(s) Simone Lässig
This article provides an introduction to the aims, methods, and interdisciplinary approach of this new journal, elucidating the traditions of international textbook research and the function of educational media as illuminating sources for various academic disciplines. Textbooks and curricula in particular, which are not only state-approved but also of a highly condensed and selective nature, are obliged to reduce the complexities of the past, present, and future onto a limited number of pages. Particularly in the humanities, which often deal with concepts of identity and portrayals that may be more open to interpretation, textbooks can become the subjects of controversial debate, especially in relation to societal shifts such as globalization and immigration. In this regard, this journal intends to illuminate the situations in which educational media evolve, including their social, cultural, political, and educational contexts. The emergence of new, particularly digital, educational media marks new modes of knowledge production. The Journal of Educational Media, Memory, and Society (JEMMS) invites analyses that reach beyond the printed page and even beyond the institution of the school itself.