Knowledge, skills and dispositions:educating history teachers in a divided society

Alan McCully, Alison Montgomery

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    This paper addresses the challenges of educating teachers during the initial teacher education phase to teach history in a society which is emerging from a sustained period of violent communal conflict. Briefly, it draws attention to the reluctance of manyeducators in Northern Ireland to engage directly in potentially sensitive cultural and political debate, and to previous obstacles encountered when introducing controversial issues tostudent teachers. The paper then outlines the strengths and limitations of history teachers’ responses to teaching history in a divided society to date. It focuses on one initiative, which encourages student history teachers to acknowledge the influence that their own backgroundsmay have on how they view, and, subsequently, teach about the past. From an analysisof the qualitative data collected, the authors identify a range of knowledge, skills and dispositions required by teachers to address issues relating to a post-conflict environment.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)92-105
    JournalInternational Journal of Historical Learning, Teaching and Research
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - Oct 2009

    Bibliographical note

    Reference text: Arlow, M. (2004) Citizenship Education in a divided Society: the case of Northern Ireland
    In: S.Towel and A. Harley (Eds.), Education, Conflict and Social Cohesion, Geneva,
    International Bureau of Education, UNESCO, pp. 255-314.
    Ashton P. & Gregoire-Gill, M. (2003) At the Heart of Teaching: the Role of Emotion
    in Changing Teachers’ Beliefs J.Raths and A. McAninch (Eds.) Teacher Beliefs and
    Classroom Performance: the Impact of Teacher Education, Greenwich, Conn.,
    Information Age Publishing.
    Barton, K. C., & Levstik, L. S. (2004) Teaching history for the common good Mahwah,
    NJ, Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
    Chinn, C. A. & Brewer, W. F. (1993) The role of anomalous data in knowledge acquisition:
    A theoretical framework and implications for science instruction Review of Educational
    Research, 63, pp.1-49.
    Cole, E.A. (Ed.) (2007) Teaching the Violent Past: History Education and Reconciliation
    Plymouth, Rowman and Littlefield Publishers Inc.
    Conway, M. (2003) Identifying the Past: An exploration of Teaching and Learning
    Sensitive issues in History at Secondary School Level Educate, 4 (2). accessed on 4/2/08.
    Fulton, S. & Gallagher, A. (1996) Teacher Training and Community Relations in Northern
    Ireland M. Craft (ed.) Teacher Education in Pluralist Societies: an International Review,
    London, Falmer Press, pp. 82-94
    Gallagher, A. (2004) Education in Divided Societies Basingstoke, Palgrave MacMillan.
    Hewstone, M. (2003) Intergroup Contact: Panacea for Prejudice? The Psychologist, 16 (7)
    pp. 352-355.
    Kitson, A. (2007) History Education and Reconciliation in Northern Ireland E.A. Cole (Ed.)
    Teaching the Violent Past: History Education and Reconciliation, Lanham, MD,
    Rowman & Littlefield.
    Kitson, A. & McCully, A. (2005) You hear about it for real in school.’ Avoiding,
    containing and risk-taking in the history classroom Teaching History, 120, pp.32-37.
    McCombe, J. (2006) School History and the Introduction of Local and Global Citizenship
    into the School History Curriculum: the views of History teachers Thesis submitted in
    fulfilment of the requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy, University of
    Ulster. Unpublished.
    McCully, A. (1998) The Teaching of History in a Divided Community, Report of a
    European Teachers’ Seminar Strasbourg, Council of Europe.
    Montgomery, A. & McCully, A. (2000) What have values got to do with it?
    G. Easdown (Ed.), Innovation and methodology: Opportunities and Constraints in
    History Teacher Education, Lancaster. HTEN). pp. 55-66.
    Morrow, D., Eyben, E. & Wilson, D. (2003) From the Margin to the Middle: Taking Equity,
    Diversity and Interdependence Seriously O. Hargie and D. Dickson (Eds.) Researching
    the Troubles: Social Science perspectives on the Northern Ireland Conflict, Edinburgh,
    Mainstream Publishing, pp. 163-181.
    Phillips, R., Goalen, P., McCully, A. & Wood, S. (1999) History Teaching, Nationhood and
    a British Identity; Past, Present and Future Compare, 29 (2), pp. 153-169.
    Seixas, P. (ed.) (2004) Theorizing Historical Consciousness Toronto, University of
    Toronto Press.
    Siberry, L. & Kearns, H. (2005) An intercultural approach to challenging issues in Northern
    Ireland teacher education European Journal of Teacher Education, 28 (3), pp. 259-266.
    Slater, J. (1995) Teaching History in the New Europe London, Council of Europe, Cassell.
    Smith, A. & Vaux, T. (2003) Education, Conflict and International Development London,
    Department of International Development (DFID).
    Walker, B. M. (1996) Dancing to history’s tune: History, myth, and politics in Ireland
    Belfast, Institute of Irish Studies, Queen’s University of Belfast.
    Weldon, G. (2005) Thinking Each Other’s History: can Facing the Past Contribute
    to Education for Human Rights and Democracy? International Journal of Historical
    Learning, Teaching and Research, 5 (1). Accessed on 8/1/09.


    • Divided Societies
    • Teacher Education
    • Teaching Cultural Difference


    Dive into the research topics of 'Knowledge, skills and dispositions:educating history teachers in a divided society'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this