Tänka rätt och tycka lämpligt historieämnet i skärningspunkten mellan att fostra kulturbärare och förbereda kulturbyggare
This doctoral thesis describes the subject of history as being filled with suspense. On the one hand, that is, in the syllabus and the teaching plan, the subject of history seeks to create students who affirm a certain culture and a certain way of understanding the past. On the other hand, students are supposed to learn to think independently and critically. This tension has consequences for the way in which students use history in school, and the way in which history teachers interpret their assignment. Students have difficulties in distancing themselves from their own approach to culture, and to comprehend that history consists of interpretations and constructions. Instead, they perceive historical narratives as either true or false. This makes it difficult to deal with questions regarding the past that challenge their view on history and are difficult to handle ethically. The dissertation also shows that the students’ use of history is limited to that which is called the school’s value system, and a view of the past that results from this value system. In those cases in which historical narratives correspond with the students’ own views and opinions, often in harmony with those voiced by the school, they tend to believe in and affirm them. In those cases in which the narratives do not correspond with the students’ views, they do not believe in them and reject them. At the same time, teachers have difficulties with handling students’ use of history in those cases in which it differs from the value system’s premises, as well as from a version of history that can be regarded as established at the school in question. This became apparent in the teachers’ evaluations, in which they systematically gave student responses that were located outside of this framework poorer evaluations and tougher scrutiny. The findings of this thesis can be considered as important from a number of different perspectives. The instructions for teaching and learning history in school are inconsistent and therefore difficult to understand for both teachers and students. To be sure, this applies primarily to those who find themselves outside of the life-world defined within the framework of the school in question. Assessing the use of history in school, in particular in a formative way, may therefore become difficult for teachers. How are teachers, who dismiss certain uses of history based on ethical reasons that can be found in the value system, but not in the knowledge requirements, supposed to be able to argue for their dismissal based on the knowledge claims of the syllabus? Students whose work is dismissed based on invisible criteria can perceive themselves as misunderstood and unwelcome in discussions regarding history at school. They can also come to perceive that their historical narratives are not allowed to exist in this context. Therefore, this dissertation suggests the creation of evaluation criteria for the subject of history that take into account ethical aspects in regard to students’ use of history. With the syllabus as starting point, this can serve to provide a basis for more precise evaluations and more equal conversations between students and teachers. A fertile ground for a vibrant democracy, in which students are taught to take responsibility for their use of history.
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