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What Would Martin Luther King Jr. Say?: Teaching the Historical and Practical Past to Promote Human Rights in Education
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Educational Sciences, Department of Education.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-1884-3252
Stanford University, USA.
2018 (English)In: Journal of Human Rights Practice, ISSN 1757-9619, E-ISSN 1757-9627, Vol. 10, no 2, p. 287-306Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

How might teachers challenge oversimplified narratives regarding the life and deedsof Martin Luther King Jr. (MLK), in order to support ideals of human rights in education?In this study, we examine ongoing history education where teachers try to promotea more radical human rights perspective on the history and legacy of MLK bycontrasting contemporary uses of history with primary sources from the era of thecivil rights movement. Teachers ask students to engage in tandem with what we callthe ‘historical’ and ‘practical’ past and we find that this may be constructive, but alsochallenging, in human rights education. We observe that students are able to deconstructtextbook narratives but find it difficult to challenge authorities and media thatoversimplify popular perceptions of the past. Yet many students did learn a more activeperspective on the life and deeds of MLK, evident even a year after the initialteaching took place, clearly influenced by the authentic historical writings of MLK.This study highlights important potentials and limitations in the attempts to teachstudents about, through and for human rights by making the past both historicaland practical. This study also illustrates ways that promoting alternative historicalperspectives can help students interrogate the past alongside their own present.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2018. Vol. 10, no 2, p. 287-306
Keywords [en]
cultural beliefs; historical thinking; human rights education; Martin Luther King Jr.; practical past
National Category
Didactics
Research subject
History; Curriculum Studies
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-357781DOI: 10.1093/jhuman/huy013ISI: 000442985700006OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-357781DiVA, id: diva2:1240220
Funder
Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation, KAW 2015.0271Available from: 2018-08-20 Created: 2018-08-20 Last updated: 2018-11-20Bibliographically approved

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CiteExportLink to record
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Citation style
  • apa
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