Teaching Rival Histories: History Teachers’ Epistemological Stances and Epistemic Switching
The research project Teaching Rival Histories, deals with the epistemological views of history teachers in relation to curricular demands regarding a history teaching with multiple perspectives.
It has become increasingly common to teach history with multiple perspectives in Western democracies. This could be seen as a consequence of a multicultural society where different histories need to be elaborated upon. Research about teachers’ approaches to and ideas about this development has mostly focused on their notions about the usefulness and prospects. However, important knowledge about how teachers tend to deal with demands in curricula and syllabi are still missing. This project aims to obtain such knowledge.
This project examines teachers' epistemological stances and how they might switch when teaching contested and culturally significant histories in Stockholm, Sweden and in Montreal, Quebec; two multicultural urban settings with largely homogeneous majority group communities. The purpose is to gain new knowledge about limitations and prospects for multi-perspectivity and for the teaching of rival histories in schools. The aim is to understand how teachers reason about epistemological criteria, and the extent to which teachers engage in "epistemic switching" depending on their student population and/or the histories they teach. By extension, we also seek to better understand how teachers' epistemic stances are reflected in teaching, especially regarding disputed issues in history where multi-perspecitvity is called for; and how teachers understand the relationship between the past (what has actually happened), and history (what is known and written about past events).