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The Voice of History and the Message of the National Curriculum: Recontextualising History to a Pedagogic Discourse for Upper Secondary VET
Umeå University, Faculty of Arts, Department of historical, philosophical and religious studies. (History and Education)ORCID iD: 0000-0001-5222-6229
2014 (English)In: Nordidactica: Journal of Humanities and Social Science Education, ISSN 2000-9879, no 2, 161-179 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

In the reform by the liberal-conservative government of Swedish upper secondary education in 2011, history was recognized as an important part of citizenship education and was introduced into the curriculum for vocational education and training (VET) tracks. Through the concepts of classification and framing, this article explores the process of constructing the history syllabus for VET. The data consist of archived material from the working group responsible for the history curriculum under the Swedish National Agency for Education. The analysis shows that there are competing discourses concerning the relative emphasis on competencies and skills and concerning the emphasis on contemporary and modern history. Although historians, history teachers and other agents are invited to respond to the content of the curriculum, the respondents have no influence on the knowledge structure of the curriculum, which is controlled by agents of the dominant educational ideology. From a critical perspective, this article suggests that the curriculum reflects the instrumental and neoconservative message of the reform through strong classification and framing and through the emphasis on general abilities and a contemporary history that has a more direct explanatory value to contemporary society.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2014. no 2, 161-179 p.
Keyword [en]
history education; vocational education; upper secondary education; curriculum; curriculum reform
National Category
History Didactics Educational Sciences
Research subject
history of education
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-96312OAI: diva2:764059
Available from: 2014-11-18 Created: 2014-11-18 Last updated: 2015-03-12Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Historia för yrkesprogrammen: Innehåll och betydelse i policy och praktik
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Historia för yrkesprogrammen: Innehåll och betydelse i policy och praktik
2015 (Swedish)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Alternative title[en]
History for Vocational Education and Training : Content and Meaning in Policy and Practice
Abstract [en]

This thesis offers critical perspectives on a history syllabus for vocational education and training (VET) tracks in Swedish upper secondary schools and adds to our knowledge and understanding of the educative function of history education for the individual and for society. The overall aim of this thesis is to critically investigate discourses that are voiced in different fields about the construction and reproduction of the history curriculum in VET tracks. A general question addressed is how vertical (critical and theoretical) and horizontal knowledge is articulated by the discourses in terms of the meaning of history in a VET context. The following four research questions were the focus of the four different studies in this thesis: How were non-vocational subjects discussed on a policy level during the post-war period, and what meanings were ascribed to history education? What aspects of history as a field of knowledge are recontextualised into a pedagogic discourse for the VET curriculum? How do teachers perceive the history syllabus? What do the students express concerning the history syllabus and history education? The results of these studies are reported in separate papers, and the aggregated results are analysed in this thesis. The data consisted of government bills and committee reports, material from the National Agency of Education archives, and interview data gathered through interviews with 5 teachers and 46 students. The major theoretical inspiration comes from Basil Bernstein whose theories of classification and framing, pedagogic discourse, pedagogic code, and vertical and horizontal discourses are used in the analysis. With the aid of these concepts, the content and meaning of history education for VET are connected to macro levels of education, and the way in which education reproduces social order when certain forms of knowledge are distributed to different groups in society is discussed. Three major conclusions are drawn. First, history as a pedagogic discourse comes forward as versatile and contradictory when the results from the studies are aggregated. There is, however, a shared understanding that the meaning of history in VET is to educate the students to become democratic and active citizens. Secondly, the investigated discourses ascribe history education with the potential to distribute critical and powerful knowledge. The students see a value for history education in their future as citizens and for giving them access the public conversation of society. A final conclusion is that the pedagogic code, embedded in the history curriculum, can be interpreted in two different ways. The emphasis on competencies and the focus on the last two hundred years can be interpreted as (A) an expression of a wish for immediate utility and thus an instrumental view of education or (B) the recontextualisation of scientific theories, concepts, and practices into a pedagogic discourse as a means to give students access to disciplinary (powerful) knowledge.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Umeå: Umeå universitet, 2015. 57 p.
Umeå studies in history and education, 10
History education, history of education, curriculum studies, curriculum reform, vocational education and training, upper secondary education, post-compulsory education, citizenship education, historiedidaktik, historia, läroplan, gymnasiereform, yrkesutbildning, sekundärutbildning, demokrati, medborgarfostran, gymnasieutbildning
National Category
History Educational Sciences
Research subject
history of education
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-99842 (URN)978-91-7601-228-4 (ISBN)
Public defence
2015-03-13, Hörsal E. Humanisthuset, Umeå, 10:15 (Swedish)
Available from: 2015-02-20 Created: 2015-02-13 Last updated: 2015-04-30Bibliographically approved

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