In the case of such issues, it becomes particularly visible that history teachers are positioned as mediators between different fields or perspectives academy, science, politics, different nations, different worldviews or ideologies, etc. Teacher positions are shaped by their location, both perceived and actual, on the landscape.
On the other hand, their action space is made up of more subjective, dynamic and situational things such as pedagogical repertoire, epistemological position, self-confidence and sense of professional autonomy and legitimacy that are connected to their image of the social, political and academic space that surrounds history teaching. For further analysis of orientations in teaching history, we draw on Social Representation Theory.
By social representations, we understand coordinated patterns of thinking, communication and behaving that exist among actors in social groups relative to issues or imaginary or real objects, which become relevant in certain situations e. Jovchelovitch ; Moscovici ; Wagner and Hayes A social representation equally includes what individual members of a group think about an issue, how they communicate about it and how they behave towards others and towards the things related to an issue.
In other words, representations are in action as much as they are in thinking Wagner In his study on psychoanalysis, Moscovici made the important point that representations are social not only due to in-group members sharing in their contents, but also by the very fact that different representational contents are contingent on styles of communication.
To explicate this, he used three bodies of newspapers. Firstly, newspapers addressed to the French society as a whole, i. This style did not evaluate what was communicated, but offered content irrespective of potential contradiction. Another style was used by the communist press. Moscovici called the communication style propagandistic as it flatly rejected psychoanalysis as harmful. It was a highly evaluative way of communication and assessed any news with regard to its implications for communist ideology and political progress.
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Rather, they are an integral part of the latter. In his view, social representations not only exist for the purpose of communication, so to say before it, but are created, shaped and elaborated by and through communication in groups.
The discourse related to a social object, that is the interests and motivations of group members and the affective and cognitive resources brought forward, jointly determines and characterises the content and form of the representation. We consider the integrative character of social representations to be pivotal in theorising.
If we want to understand how local worlds, conflicts Psaltis , school textbooks Sakki and other social objects take shape, the concrete form of communal communication must be part and parcel of the representation and the object that it addresses Duveen a , b ; Wagner et al. In history teaching, the style of teaching not only conveys a message about epistemology, i. Maintaining the image of a valuable in-group by way of a celebratory past from the perspective of a certain group does not allow presenting alternative narratives on an equal footing to the self-serving version.
In contrast, if involved in critical history teaching, the teacher will employ contents that contest national myths and deconstruct celebratory narratives. A critical and multiperspective approach to history motivates students to consider alternatives to their own views, which may have been or are currently dominant with an adversary or even inimical groups or countries.
Such communication style does not defend a specific historical interpretation, but offers several side by side. However, it can also appear in a form much closer to propaganda, if an in-group-serving selection is made from academically adequate knowledge.
Introduction: inclusive ideals and practice
Opposite styles of propaganda and dissemination cross-cut by two opposite approaches in history teaching. The polyphonic way, in turn, need not be necessarily scholarship based, i. In the following, we first give a brief overview of the historical contexts from which our empirical examples come from. Then, we proceed to Estonian and Latvian history teachers positions viewed through the lens of the theoretical considerations just described.
Estonia and Latvia are two post-Soviet countries that have experienced several ruptures and historical transitions over the course of the twentieth century. The former period was marked by terror, arrests of intellectuals, civil servants, politicians, as well as mass deportations of civilians to Siberia in and During the Soviet era, workforce immigration resulted in large Russian-speaking communities in Estonia and Latvia, often having a different perspective towards both past and present history and politics, as compared to the indigenous populations.
Hence, it is not surprising that historical conflicts are perceived as providing the clearest social division lines in both countries, leading to them being utilised to legitimate both the more evident language based and the more implicit socio-economic e. Lauristin et al. Those who disagree, either from ethnic majority or from ethnic minority, are more aware of their precarious position in between different conceptions, institutions and communities. Ahonen ; Symcox and Wilschut From a general education perspective, history teaching was expected to educate students and to enhance their analytical thinking, ability to see causal connections and other skills like summation and narration.
However, propaganda in history teaching was not retouched during the Soviet era. During the s however, this trend was combined with increasing influences from the history teaching communities of Western Europe. Two organisations were of particular significance, the European Association of History Educators Euroclio and the Council of Europe, which both disseminated ideas about multiperspective and constructivist history teaching by learning and teaching materials, teacher training, national curricula and national final examinations e.
Besides promoting multiperspective and constructivist teaching approaches, such influences led to withdrawal of national identity- and patriotism-related aims of history teaching on which we will focus on in the following section. As we noted, since the s, identity has been mentioned only fleetingly in national curricula and more constructivist influences have been added, with regard to both student learning and historical knowledge. Estonian ethnic national one. On the one hand, the curriculum could be presented to the West as promoting tolerance and multiperspectivity.
On the other hand, in the curricular support materials ethnic and nationalist positions were found more explicitly e. In fact, as elsewhere, there is some division between social and professional representations regarding the aims and essence of history teaching. For reasons that we will explain shortly, this division seems to be more pronounced in Estonia than in Latvia. The explicitly acknowledged objectives are rather cognitive ones such as knowledge and thinking skills, plus interest in history.
Identity and patriotism seem to belong to a separate bundle. Not just in Estonia but also elsewhere the enlightened and disciplinary discourses are stronger among history educators. Secondly, outright indoctrination which is connected to the notions of identities and patriotism might have been perceived as a taboo, particularly against the backdrop of Soviet history teaching, which was perceived as overly ideological. Positions related to ethnic, national identity are politically and socially laden, and there seems to be no really safe way to express relevant positions. Notwithstanding, identity-related aspects of history teaching may be taken for granted as implicit aims, as part of teaching the local past naturally, without explicit effort and without addressing any particular group.
As can be seen, the curriculum mentions these things rather in passing, cautiously, so there is a lot of space for individual interpretations by the teachers—more space than in the case of the more cognitively oriented aims.
On what else should we concentrate? It is also interesting that those few teachers who agreed that there was too much teaching of Estonian history were never ethnic Estonians.
Referring to an alleged lack of factual knowledge among young people, nationalist politicians have supported mandating Latvian history as a separate subject, apart from European and world history. There are also other contextual differences that explain why in , Latvian history teachers referred to their patriotic tasks more often and more explicitly than their Estonian peers.
This automatically gives somewhat more importance to history interpretations as issues of party politics in Latvia e.
Cheskin In addition, the economic crisis of hit Latvia harder, and the following workforce emigration wave was more visible in Latvia as compared to Estonia. Well, who? Who controls it? But of course, one can feel something, something a bit. So yes, there is something the teacher stresses […]. Rather it shows that such a bias might be less explicitly visible in everyday public discussions for reasons mentioned above.
It can thus be hypothesised that there is a difference between what kinds of representations allow themselves readily to be formulated in lay versus professional discourses in different political contexts and in different situations. In some situations, history teachers are more often and more explicitly reminded of their patriotic tasks than in other situations. In Latvia where the situation has been similar in many regards—the historical background of the country, the development of history curricula since the early twentieth century, the academic history-based education of most history teachers—some recent contextual differences seem to have made identity-related aims spontaneously more available in spontaneous professional discourse, too.
Some interviewees expressed a frustration with the various stereotypes their students had adopted from the growing diversity of accessible sources—in these cases, students were represented as neither able to argue their views, nor able to recognise the lacunae in their arguments.
This did not always cause the teachers to drop their attempts of a critical and nuanced teaching.
Classroom management and competencies related to quality teachers [ Wing Institute
But still a multiperspective teaching was restrained by an image—or reality—of students who were not seen as able to deal with it. However, the alternative to such teaching style was not necessarily a neutral, academically dry narration. This is of course a generic pedagogical task—maths and biology teachers face the same problem. There needs to be some small reservation or limit.
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