History Teaching, Conflict and the Legacy of the Past

Alan McCully

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    80 Citations (Scopus)


    The paper examines the utility of enquiry based, multi-perspective history teaching in divided societies and those emerging from conflict. Using findings from Northern Ireland as an example, it concludes that, while empirical research is required in a range of conflict settings, an enquiry approach, placing an emphasis on the examination of evidence and the study of multiple perspectives, can have a positive impact on young people’s thinking. However, for history teaching to contribute fully to the reconciliatory process it must engage critically with the legacies of the more recent past. The paper draws on the distinction between what Minow calls ‘psychological’ truth, associated with “truth-telling” in the immediate aftermath of conflict, and historical truth. It suggests that by engaging with storytelling history teaching may have the capacity to encourage young people to ‘care’ for those from different backgrounds who have been victimised by conflict; and also to examine such stories critically and thereby acquire a more complex understanding of the events of the recent past.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)145-159
    JournalEducation, Citizenship and Social Justice
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 1 Jul 2012

    Bibliographical note

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    • history teaching
    • multiperspectivity
    • post-conflict education
    • reconciliation
    • truth recovery.


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