The present study is about sensitive issues in history teaching that have probably been experienced by most teachers in the field. We conducted a questionnaire study in Austria, Belarus, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Israel, Italy, Serbia and The Netherlands to assess which issues were experienced as sensitive in class, what the reasons were for sensitivity, and what personal and institutional conditions might help teachers in overcoming such situations. Results were analysed from the perspective of both collective and individual differences. At the collective level it was found that contrary to previous studies teachers tended to attribute low sensitivity to difficult histories, to teach sensitive issues frequently and they reported little intervention and few sanctions from peers or superiors. Historical issue sensitivity was found to have some relationship to national political climate, external threat and teacher organization. From an individual difference perspective it appeared that sensitivity was not only a characteristic of an issue or topic, but was also bound to the sensibility of the teachers and their perceptions of the teaching setting. The findings are discussed in the context of nations’ self-image and the positive side-effects of analysing sensitive issues in class, with an emphasis on teacher perception, agency and need for support.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This work was supported by ESF COST Action IS1205 (‘Social-psychological dynamics of historical representations in the enlarged European Union’) coordinated by Laurent Licata.
This work was supported by ESF COST Action IS1205 (‘Social-psychological dynamics of historical representations in the enlarged European Union’) coordinated by Laurent Licata. We gratefully acknowledge help in developing the questionnaire by Katrin Kello, help in preparing the local questionnaire and collecting the data by Egbert Bernauer and Britta Breser, Austria, Marianna Makarova and Mare Oja, Estonia, Salla Ahola, Finland, Bruno Modica, CLIONAUTES, France, Jida Thouma, Israel.
© 2019, © 2019 Pedagogy, Culture & Society.
- Sensitive historical issues
- cross-country analysis
- difficult histories
- history teaching
- teachers’ sensibility
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cultural Studies