Making democrats while developing their historical consciousness: A complex task.

Fredrik Alvén


History teaching in Sweden is, among other things, supposed to create democratic citizens appreciating certain values. These goals are described in the first chapter in the curriculum, “Fundamental values and tasks of the school”, as cross-curricular goals that every teacher should foster. At the same time the history teacher is supposed to develop the students´ historical consciousness by developing certain cognitive abilities that allow the students to interpret history on their own. These abilities are described in the history syllabus. The abilities do not, however, address any particular values to be developed. The history teachers´ assignments can therefore be in conflict. In the article I analyze the Swedish history teachers´ mission by comparing the goals for the citizenship education in the curriculum´s first chapter, with the theoretical construction of how to develop the students´ historical consciousness, found in the syllabus in history. At the end there is a discussion and a tentative suggestion how to process the tension between making democrats and at the same time develop the students´ cognitive abilities to understand and use history of their own.


curriculum; historical consciousness; citizenship education; history teaching

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Copyright (c) 2017 Fredrik Alvén

Historical Encounters is a double blind peer-reviewed, open access, interdisciplinary journal dedicated to the empirical and theoretical study of historical consciousness, historical cultures, and history education.

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A/ Professor Robert J. Parkes, PhD
Editor-in-Chief | Historical Encounters
Faculty of Education and Arts
The University of Newcastle
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ISSN 2203-7543