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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.