This article analyzes textbooks and curricula for primary schools in Poland published between 1944 and 1989 to show how the communist regime attempted to influence Polish history education via political change and educational reform. The article focuses on five aspects of this influence: Marxist methodology of history, portrayals of political parties, promotion of a “scientific“ worldview, justification of new boundaries and alliances of the People's Poland, and a new pantheon of national heroes. In conclusion, the article investigates the effectiveness of history education in shaping Polish collective memory under the communist regime.
Memory Practices in History Education about the 1947 British India Partition
Opportunities and Challenges to Breaching Hegemonic Remembering
This article is an epistemological reflection on memory practices in the construction, deconstruction, and reconstruction of collective memories of a historical event involving collective violence and conflict in formal and informal spaces of education. It focuses on the 1947 British India Partition of Punjab. The article engages with multiple memory practices of Partition carried out through personal narrative, interactions between Indian and Pakistani secondary school pupils, history textbook contents, and their enactment in the classroom by teachers. It sheds light on the complex dynamic between collective memory and history education about events of violent conflict, and explores opportunities for and challenges to intercepting hegemonic remembering of a violent past.
Alexander König and Daniel Bernsen
Mobile devices enable pupils to decode edificial remains and symbols by spontaneously accessing additional information electronically. This article provides guidelines for mobile learning in history on the basis of mobility and enquiry- and design-based learning. The authors explore ways in which pupils may use their mobile devices to create innovative forms of collaboratively generated products like digital stories or geocaches. By drawing on social networks in order to promote discussion and publications, such products entail social participation and commitment. Mobile history learning also helps pupils to understand public debates about history, memory, and identity.
Reflections on History Education
Easy and Difficult Histories
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.
Felicitas Macgilchrist, Barbara Christophe, and Alexandra Binnenkade
This special issue of the Journal of Educational Media, Memory and Society explores memory practices and history education. The first point of departure for the texts collated here is that memory (whichever concept we use from the current range including collective memory, cultural memory, social memory, connected memory, prosthetic memory, multidirectional memory, travelling memory and entangled memory) is a site of political contestation, subject formation, power struggle, knowledge production, and community-building. Our second point of departure is that history education is a site where teachers and pupils as members of distinct generations engage with textbooks and other materials as specific forms of memory texts that guide what should be passed on to the younger generation. As editors, we solicited papers that investigate how what counts as “worth remembering” in a given context is reproduced, negotiated and/or interrupted in classrooms and other educational practices. This introduction aims to sketch the overarching understanding of memory practices which guide the contributions, to point to the purchase of attending explicitly to the “doing” of memory, to highlight the difference between our approach to history education and approaches focusing on historical thinking, and to introduce the six articles.
History Education and the Claims of Society
An Historical Approach
Tom Verschaffel and Kaat Wils
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.
Experiencing, Using, and Teaching History
Two History Teachers’ Relations to History and Educational Media
teaching methodologies are certainly important components in the study of history education, it can be argued that personal experiences and beliefs originating outside the history classroom are equally relevant. The aim of this article is thus to analyze
Empowering Critical Memory Consciousness in Education
The Example of 22 July 2011 in Norway
Alexandre Dessingué and Ketil Knutsen
of memory work rather than of passive memory transmission, is one that memory studies has yet to fully embrace.” 13 Agreeing with Paulson, our assumption is that history education provides a partial answer as to what a critical memory
“Longing for the Past“
Politicians and the History Curriculum in English Schools, 1988-2010
Scrutiny of the statements of UK politicians about the nature and purposes of teaching history in schools shows a strong desire to return to the “traditional“ form of history education which was dominant in the UK until the 1970s, with its strong emphasis on a positive and heroic rendering of the national past and movement away from the idea of history education to develop intellectual autonomy and provide historical perspectives on contemporary issues and problems. The concluding section of the paper considers the implications of this attempt to “turn back the clock“ and argues that it is intensifying the polarization between policymakers and history education professionals, perhaps ultimately leading to a form of school history which many young people consider to be irrelevant and implausible.
This article explores a key claim underpinning Russian official memory politics, namely, the notion that Russia’s past (and especially the role it played in the Second World War) is the object of a campaign of “historical falsification” aimed at, among other things, undermining Russian sovereignty, especially by distorting young people’s historical consciousness. Although “historical falsification” is an important keyword in the Kremlin’s discourse, it has received little scholarly attention. Via an analysis of official rhetoric and methodological literature aimed at history teachers, I investigate the ideological functions performed by the concept of “historical falsification.” I show how it serves to reinforce a conspiratorial vision of Russia as a nation under siege, while simultaneously justifying the drive toward greater state control over history education.