Joint Sessions

MODERNIZATION and MODERNITY in the History of History Education
Session code
Date Time
Wednesday, August 24th / 14.00-17.30
Susanne Popp; Eckhardt Fuchs
Collegium Novum, C2

Since its institutionalisation in the 19th century in the context of nation-building, history education in schools has been closely linked to the societal negotiations of the terms ‘modernisation’ and ‘modernity’. On the one hand, there has been a permanent discussion about the (content-related and/or methodological) ‘modernisation’ of the school subject from its very beginnings. The reform ideas always called for overcoming the (supposedly) ‘outdated’ in favour of the ‘urgently’needed adaptation to essential challenges of the respective ‘present’. On the other hand, the category of ‘modernity’ has been the dominant reference point of history curricula since the outset of this school subject: the ‘present’ always appeared/appears as the ‘most modern’ stage of the depicted historical process. However, the ideas about what is the ‘modern’ of the present were and are subject to constant change. Many contributions to this panel explore questions of ‘modernisation’ and ‘modernity’ of school history from 1945 to the present in international case studies (Sweden: P.S. Colla, Denmark: M. Lytje, Israel: R. Weintraub, USA/Hungary: K. Benziger, Finland: J. Norppa, T. Taivalantti, for a Portuguese-language journal: O. Ponte Cardoso, C. Pinto Ribeíro). A. Al Masum gives a historical overview of the British ‘modernisation policy’ in Bangladesh. Other focal points are provided by J. Schumann and M. Wobring. Schumann critically examines the German textbook genre "World History for Girls" (19th century) from the aspect of ‘modernisation’, while Wobring deals with the teaching of the history of technology, highlighting the crucial point that technology is seen as the most prominent symbol of a linearly progressing ‘modernisation’ in the students' pre-conceptions.