- ‘I Saw Angry People and Broken Statues’
- Historical Empathy in Secondary History Education
- British Journal of Educational Studies
- Volume | Issue number
- 65 | 3
- Pages (from-to)
- Document type
- Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (FMG)
Faculty of Humanities (FGw)
- Research Institute of Child Development and Education (RICDE)
Amsterdam School of Historical Studies (ASH)
Tasks which invite students to identify with historical actors and describe their perspectives, are a common phenomenon in history education. The aim of this study is to explore the differences in students’ answers when completing a writing task in first person (“imagine you are in the past”) or in third person (“imagine someone in the past”), or a task in which such imagination is not explicitly asked. Furthermore we investigated the effects of the type of task on topic knowledge and situational interest. Students in Dutch secondary education (N = 254) participated by completing a task on the Dutch Iconoclasm. Our analysis of student answers focused on aspects of historical empathy: historical contextualization, affective elements and perspective taking.
Results were that all students gained some knowledge from the task, regardless of the type of task they completed. Students’ situational interest also did not differ between the three tasks. However, students’ written work showed that the first and third person writing tasks stimulated students to imagine concrete details of the past and emotions of historical actors. Students who were not explicitly asked to imagine themselves or someone in the past, included more perspectives into their writings. Students who completed the task in first person, tended to show more presentism and moral judgements of the past than students who completed a task in third person.
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