Trying to “see things differently”: Northern Ireland Students’ Struggle to Understand Alternative Historical Perspectives

K.C. Barton, Alan McCully

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    29 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    This study illustrates the processes by which eight pairs of adolescents in Northern Ireland struggled to come to grips with tensions between school and community history. Findings are based on data collected through open-ended, semi-structured interviews with students from a variety of backgrounds. Although these students appreciated the attempt by schools to present a neutral and balanced approach to the past, many had difficulty fully engaging with alternative historical perspectives. These findings suggest that a balanced history curriculum may fail to challenge students deeply enough to help them integrate competing views of the past in ways that withstand community pressure. Greater engagement with multiple historical perspectives may require that schools address the affective component of contentious history, that they help students reflect on contemporary representations of the past, and that they expose students to the diversity of perspectives that exist within seemingly monolithic political and religious categories. Keywords: empathy; history education; Northern Ireland; social identity
    LanguageEnglish
    Pages371-408
    JournalTheory and Research in Social Education
    Volume40
    Issue number4
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2012

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    @article{6bba98264c8240f2a593d4dff5e418f9,
    title = "Trying to “see things differently”: Northern Ireland Students’ Struggle to Understand Alternative Historical Perspectives",
    abstract = "This study illustrates the processes by which eight pairs of adolescents in Northern Ireland struggled to come to grips with tensions between school and community history. Findings are based on data collected through open-ended, semi-structured interviews with students from a variety of backgrounds. Although these students appreciated the attempt by schools to present a neutral and balanced approach to the past, many had difficulty fully engaging with alternative historical perspectives. These findings suggest that a balanced history curriculum may fail to challenge students deeply enough to help them integrate competing views of the past in ways that withstand community pressure. Greater engagement with multiple historical perspectives may require that schools address the affective component of contentious history, that they help students reflect on contemporary representations of the past, and that they expose students to the diversity of perspectives that exist within seemingly monolithic political and religious categories. Keywords: empathy; history education; Northern Ireland; social identity",
    author = "K.C. Barton and Alan McCully",
    note = "Reference text: An, S. (2009). Learning U.S. history in an age of globalization and transnational migration. Journal of Curriculum Studies, 41, 763-787. Batson, C. D. (2009). These things called empathy: Eight related but distinct phenomena. In J. Decety & W. Ickes (Eds.), The social neuroscience of empathy (pp. 3-15). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. Barton, K. C., & Levstik, L. S. (1998). “It wasn’t a good part of history”: Ambiguity and identity in middle grade students’ judgments of historical significance. Teachers College Record, 99, 478-513. Barton, K. C., & Levstik, L. S. (2004). Teaching history for the common good. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum. Barton, K. C., & McCully, A. W. (2010). “You can form your own point of view”: Internally persuasive discourse in Northern Ireland students’ encounters with history. Teachers College Record, 112, 142-181. Barton, K. C., & McCully, A. W. (2005). History, identity, and the school curriculum in Northern Ireland: An empirical study of secondary students’ ideas and perspectives. Journal of Curriculum Studies, 37, 85-116. Bransford, J. D., Brown, A. L., & Cocking, R. R. (2000). How people learn: Brain, mind, experience, and school. Washington, DC: National Academy Press. Braun, V., & Clarke, V. (2006). Using thematic analysis in psychology. Qualitative Research in Psychology, 3, 77-101. Buckley, A. D., & Kenney, M. C. (1995). Negotiating identity: Rhetoric, metaphor, and social drama in Northern Ireland. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution Press. Cairns, E. (1982). Integroup conflict in Northern Ireland. In H. Tajfel (Ed.), Social identity and intergroup relations (pp. 277-298). London: Cambridge University Press. Conway, M. (2004). Identifying the past: An exploration of teaching and learning sensitive issues in history at secondary school level. Educate~, 4(2). Journal online at http://www.educatejournal.org/ Council for the Curriculum, Examinations and Assessment. (2007). The statutory curriculum at Key Stage 3: Rationale and details. Belfast, Northern Ireland: Author. Department of Education Northern Ireland. (1991). Northern Ireland Curriculum Key Stages 3 and 4: Programmes of study and attainment targets, Bangor, Northern Ireland: Author. Eder, D., & Fingerson, L. (2002). Interviewing children and adolescents. In J. F. Gubrium & J. A. Holstein (Eds.), Handbook of interview research: Context and method (pp. 181–201). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. Education and Training Inspectorate. (2006). History Matters: report of a survey on the extent to which the teaching of history in post-primary schools helps prepare young people to live in Northern Ireland’s divided and increasingly plural society, Bangor, Northern Ireland: Department of Education Northern Ireland. Epstein, T. (2008). Interpreting national history: Race, identity, and pedagogy in classrooms and communities. New York, NY: Routledge. Goldberg, T., Porat, D., & Schwarz, B. (2006). “Here started the rift we see today”: Student and textbook narratives between official and counter memory. Narrative Inquiry, 16, 319-347. Goldberg, T., Schwarz, B. B., & Porat, D. (2008). Living and dormant collective memories as contexts of history learning. Learning and Instruction, 18, 223-237. Halpern, J. (1993). Empathy: Using resonance emotions in the service of curiosity. In H. Spiro, M. G. M. Curren, E. Peschel, & D. St. James (Eds.), Empathy and the practice of medicine (pp. 160-173). New Haven, CT: Yale University Press. Halpern, J. (2001). From detached concern to empathy: Humanizing medical practice. New York, NY: Oxford University Press. Holstein, J. A., & Gubrium, J. F. (1994). Phenomenology, ethnomethodology, and interpretive practice. In N. K. Denzin & Y. S. Lincoln (Eds.), Handbook of qualitative research (pp. 428-444). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. Huberman, A. M., & Miles, M. B. (1994). Data management and analysis methods. In N. K. Denzin & Y. S. Lincoln (Eds.), Handbook of qualitative research (pp. 262-272). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. Jarman, N. (1998). Material conflicts: Parades and visual displays in Northern Ireland. New York, NY: Berg. King J. T. (2009). Teaching and learning about controversial issues: Lessons from Northern Ireland, Theory and Research in Social Education, 37, 215-246. Kitson, A. (2007). History education and reconciliation in Northern Ireland. In E.A. Cole (Ed.), Teaching the violent past: History education and reconciliation (pp. 123-154). Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield. Krueger, R. A., & Casey, M. A. (2000). Focus group interviews: A practical guide for applied research. Third edition. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. Lawlor, S. (2002). Narrative in social research. In T. May (Ed.), Qualitative research in action (pp. 242-258). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. L{\'e}tourneau, J., & Moisan, S. (2004). Young people’s assimilation of a collective historical memory: A case study of Quebeckers of French-Canadian heritage. In P. Seixas (Ed.), Theorizing historical consciousness (pp. 109–128). Toronto, Canada: University of Toronto Press. Levstik, L. S., & Barton, K. C. (2008). Researching history education: Theory, method, and context. New York: Routledge. McBride, I. (1997). The Siege of Derry in Ulster Protestant mythology. Dublin, Ireland: Four Courts Press. McCaffery, N., & Hansson, U. (2011). The Troubles aren’t history yet: Young people’s understanding of the past. Shared Space, 11, 43-56. McCombe, J. (2007). Complementary or contradictory? History teachers’ views on school History and the introduction of Local and Global Citizenship into the Northern Ireland Curriculum, UNESCO Centre, Recent research on teaching history in Northern Ireland: Informing curriculum change, Coleraine, UNESCO Centre, University of Ulster, 33-36. McCully, A. (2010). History teaching, ‘truth recovery’ and reconciliation. In C. Mitchell, T. Strong-Wilson, K. Pithouse, & L. Allnutt (Eds.), Memory and Pedagogy (pp. 161-176). New York, NY: Routledge. McCully, A., & Pilgrim, N. (2004). “They took Ireland away from us and we’ve got to fight to get it back”: Using fictional characters to explore the relationship between historical interpretation and contemporary attitudes. Teaching History, 114, 17-21. McCully, A., Pilgrim, N., Sutherland, A., & McMinn, T. (2002). “Don’t worry Mr. Trimble, we can handle it”: Balancing the rational and emotional in the teaching of contentious topics. Teaching History, 105, 6–12. McGlynn, C., Niens, U., Cairns, E., & Hewstone, M. (2004). Moving out of conflict: The contribution of integrated schools in Northern Ireland to identity, attitudes, forgiveness, and reconciliation. Journal of Peace Education, 1, 147-163. Muldoon, O. T. (2004). Children of the troubles: The impact of political violence in Northern Ireland. Journal of Social Issues, 60, 453-468. Preston, S. D., & de Waal, F. (2002). Empathy: Its ultimate and proximate bases. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 25, 1-72. Tajfel, H. (1981). Human groups and social categories: Studies in social psychology. Cambridge, United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press. Terzian, S. G., & Yeager, E. A. (2007). “That’s when we became a nation”: Urban Latino adolescents and the designation of historical significance. Urban Education, 42, 52-81. Thompson, C. (2007) Presenting the past or shaping the future: An investigation into current issues in post-primary history education. In A. W. McCully (ed.), Recent research on teaching history in Northern Ireland: Informing curriculum change (pp. 30-32). Coleraine, Northern Ireland; UNESCO Centre, University of Ulster. Thompson, E. (2001). Empathy and consciousness. Journal of Consciousness Studies, 8, 1-32. Trew, K., & Benson, D. (1996) Dimensions of social identity in Northern Ireland. In G. M. Breakwell & E. Lyons (Eds.), Changing European identities (pp. 123-143). Oxford, United Kingdom: Butterworth-Heinemann. Walker, B. M. (1996). Dancing to history’s tune: History, myth, and politics in Ireland. Belfast, Northern Ireland: Institute of Irish Studies, Queen’s University of Belfast. Wertsch, J. V. (1998). Mind as action. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.",
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    doi = "10.1080/00933104.2012.710928",
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    pages = "371--408",
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    }

    Trying to “see things differently”: Northern Ireland Students’ Struggle to Understand Alternative Historical Perspectives. / Barton, K.C.; McCully, Alan.

    In: Theory and Research in Social Education, Vol. 40, No. 4, 2012, p. 371-408.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    TY - JOUR

    T1 - Trying to “see things differently”: Northern Ireland Students’ Struggle to Understand Alternative Historical Perspectives

    AU - Barton, K.C.

    AU - McCully, Alan

    N1 - Reference text: An, S. (2009). Learning U.S. history in an age of globalization and transnational migration. Journal of Curriculum Studies, 41, 763-787. Batson, C. D. (2009). These things called empathy: Eight related but distinct phenomena. In J. Decety & W. Ickes (Eds.), The social neuroscience of empathy (pp. 3-15). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. Barton, K. C., & Levstik, L. S. (1998). “It wasn’t a good part of history”: Ambiguity and identity in middle grade students’ judgments of historical significance. Teachers College Record, 99, 478-513. Barton, K. C., & Levstik, L. S. (2004). Teaching history for the common good. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum. Barton, K. C., & McCully, A. W. (2010). “You can form your own point of view”: Internally persuasive discourse in Northern Ireland students’ encounters with history. Teachers College Record, 112, 142-181. Barton, K. C., & McCully, A. W. (2005). History, identity, and the school curriculum in Northern Ireland: An empirical study of secondary students’ ideas and perspectives. Journal of Curriculum Studies, 37, 85-116. Bransford, J. D., Brown, A. L., & Cocking, R. R. (2000). How people learn: Brain, mind, experience, and school. Washington, DC: National Academy Press. Braun, V., & Clarke, V. (2006). Using thematic analysis in psychology. Qualitative Research in Psychology, 3, 77-101. Buckley, A. D., & Kenney, M. C. (1995). Negotiating identity: Rhetoric, metaphor, and social drama in Northern Ireland. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution Press. Cairns, E. (1982). Integroup conflict in Northern Ireland. In H. Tajfel (Ed.), Social identity and intergroup relations (pp. 277-298). London: Cambridge University Press. Conway, M. (2004). Identifying the past: An exploration of teaching and learning sensitive issues in history at secondary school level. Educate~, 4(2). Journal online at http://www.educatejournal.org/ Council for the Curriculum, Examinations and Assessment. (2007). The statutory curriculum at Key Stage 3: Rationale and details. Belfast, Northern Ireland: Author. Department of Education Northern Ireland. (1991). Northern Ireland Curriculum Key Stages 3 and 4: Programmes of study and attainment targets, Bangor, Northern Ireland: Author. Eder, D., & Fingerson, L. (2002). Interviewing children and adolescents. In J. F. Gubrium & J. A. Holstein (Eds.), Handbook of interview research: Context and method (pp. 181–201). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. Education and Training Inspectorate. (2006). History Matters: report of a survey on the extent to which the teaching of history in post-primary schools helps prepare young people to live in Northern Ireland’s divided and increasingly plural society, Bangor, Northern Ireland: Department of Education Northern Ireland. Epstein, T. (2008). Interpreting national history: Race, identity, and pedagogy in classrooms and communities. New York, NY: Routledge. Goldberg, T., Porat, D., & Schwarz, B. (2006). “Here started the rift we see today”: Student and textbook narratives between official and counter memory. Narrative Inquiry, 16, 319-347. Goldberg, T., Schwarz, B. B., & Porat, D. (2008). Living and dormant collective memories as contexts of history learning. Learning and Instruction, 18, 223-237. Halpern, J. (1993). Empathy: Using resonance emotions in the service of curiosity. In H. Spiro, M. G. M. Curren, E. Peschel, & D. St. James (Eds.), Empathy and the practice of medicine (pp. 160-173). New Haven, CT: Yale University Press. Halpern, J. (2001). From detached concern to empathy: Humanizing medical practice. New York, NY: Oxford University Press. Holstein, J. A., & Gubrium, J. F. (1994). Phenomenology, ethnomethodology, and interpretive practice. In N. K. Denzin & Y. S. Lincoln (Eds.), Handbook of qualitative research (pp. 428-444). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. Huberman, A. M., & Miles, M. B. (1994). Data management and analysis methods. In N. K. Denzin & Y. S. Lincoln (Eds.), Handbook of qualitative research (pp. 262-272). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. Jarman, N. (1998). Material conflicts: Parades and visual displays in Northern Ireland. New York, NY: Berg. King J. T. (2009). Teaching and learning about controversial issues: Lessons from Northern Ireland, Theory and Research in Social Education, 37, 215-246. Kitson, A. (2007). History education and reconciliation in Northern Ireland. In E.A. Cole (Ed.), Teaching the violent past: History education and reconciliation (pp. 123-154). Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield. Krueger, R. A., & Casey, M. A. (2000). Focus group interviews: A practical guide for applied research. Third edition. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. Lawlor, S. (2002). Narrative in social research. In T. May (Ed.), Qualitative research in action (pp. 242-258). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. Létourneau, J., & Moisan, S. (2004). Young people’s assimilation of a collective historical memory: A case study of Quebeckers of French-Canadian heritage. In P. Seixas (Ed.), Theorizing historical consciousness (pp. 109–128). Toronto, Canada: University of Toronto Press. Levstik, L. S., & Barton, K. C. (2008). Researching history education: Theory, method, and context. New York: Routledge. McBride, I. (1997). The Siege of Derry in Ulster Protestant mythology. Dublin, Ireland: Four Courts Press. McCaffery, N., & Hansson, U. (2011). The Troubles aren’t history yet: Young people’s understanding of the past. Shared Space, 11, 43-56. McCombe, J. (2007). Complementary or contradictory? History teachers’ views on school History and the introduction of Local and Global Citizenship into the Northern Ireland Curriculum, UNESCO Centre, Recent research on teaching history in Northern Ireland: Informing curriculum change, Coleraine, UNESCO Centre, University of Ulster, 33-36. McCully, A. (2010). History teaching, ‘truth recovery’ and reconciliation. In C. Mitchell, T. Strong-Wilson, K. Pithouse, & L. Allnutt (Eds.), Memory and Pedagogy (pp. 161-176). New York, NY: Routledge. McCully, A., & Pilgrim, N. (2004). “They took Ireland away from us and we’ve got to fight to get it back”: Using fictional characters to explore the relationship between historical interpretation and contemporary attitudes. Teaching History, 114, 17-21. McCully, A., Pilgrim, N., Sutherland, A., & McMinn, T. (2002). “Don’t worry Mr. Trimble, we can handle it”: Balancing the rational and emotional in the teaching of contentious topics. Teaching History, 105, 6–12. McGlynn, C., Niens, U., Cairns, E., & Hewstone, M. (2004). Moving out of conflict: The contribution of integrated schools in Northern Ireland to identity, attitudes, forgiveness, and reconciliation. Journal of Peace Education, 1, 147-163. Muldoon, O. T. (2004). Children of the troubles: The impact of political violence in Northern Ireland. Journal of Social Issues, 60, 453-468. Preston, S. D., & de Waal, F. (2002). Empathy: Its ultimate and proximate bases. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 25, 1-72. Tajfel, H. (1981). Human groups and social categories: Studies in social psychology. Cambridge, United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press. Terzian, S. G., & Yeager, E. A. (2007). “That’s when we became a nation”: Urban Latino adolescents and the designation of historical significance. Urban Education, 42, 52-81. Thompson, C. (2007) Presenting the past or shaping the future: An investigation into current issues in post-primary history education. In A. W. McCully (ed.), Recent research on teaching history in Northern Ireland: Informing curriculum change (pp. 30-32). Coleraine, Northern Ireland; UNESCO Centre, University of Ulster. Thompson, E. (2001). Empathy and consciousness. Journal of Consciousness Studies, 8, 1-32. Trew, K., & Benson, D. (1996) Dimensions of social identity in Northern Ireland. In G. M. Breakwell & E. Lyons (Eds.), Changing European identities (pp. 123-143). Oxford, United Kingdom: Butterworth-Heinemann. Walker, B. M. (1996). Dancing to history’s tune: History, myth, and politics in Ireland. Belfast, Northern Ireland: Institute of Irish Studies, Queen’s University of Belfast. Wertsch, J. V. (1998). Mind as action. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

    PY - 2012

    Y1 - 2012

    N2 - This study illustrates the processes by which eight pairs of adolescents in Northern Ireland struggled to come to grips with tensions between school and community history. Findings are based on data collected through open-ended, semi-structured interviews with students from a variety of backgrounds. Although these students appreciated the attempt by schools to present a neutral and balanced approach to the past, many had difficulty fully engaging with alternative historical perspectives. These findings suggest that a balanced history curriculum may fail to challenge students deeply enough to help them integrate competing views of the past in ways that withstand community pressure. Greater engagement with multiple historical perspectives may require that schools address the affective component of contentious history, that they help students reflect on contemporary representations of the past, and that they expose students to the diversity of perspectives that exist within seemingly monolithic political and religious categories. Keywords: empathy; history education; Northern Ireland; social identity

    AB - This study illustrates the processes by which eight pairs of adolescents in Northern Ireland struggled to come to grips with tensions between school and community history. Findings are based on data collected through open-ended, semi-structured interviews with students from a variety of backgrounds. Although these students appreciated the attempt by schools to present a neutral and balanced approach to the past, many had difficulty fully engaging with alternative historical perspectives. These findings suggest that a balanced history curriculum may fail to challenge students deeply enough to help them integrate competing views of the past in ways that withstand community pressure. Greater engagement with multiple historical perspectives may require that schools address the affective component of contentious history, that they help students reflect on contemporary representations of the past, and that they expose students to the diversity of perspectives that exist within seemingly monolithic political and religious categories. Keywords: empathy; history education; Northern Ireland; social identity

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