Hidden and unhidden normativity in Social science education and History education are being intensively researched and criticized in both educational scientific and media discourses (Gatto 2002). In addition, they are extensively discussed in teacher education and concealed or explicated in education policies and curricula for these school subjects. These discussions are further, to more or less extent, related to civic and citizenship education, as well as to political discourses more generally (e.g. Papastephanou, 2007; Hedtke, Zimenkova & Hippe, 2008 in previous issues of JSSE).
Not only do political actors at macro level try to provide for citizen formation with help of Social science education and History education . A multitude of other actors at regional and local level – be it non-governmental, religious or economic actors, or parents – bring their own agendas and normative stances into the school subjects of Social science education and History Education. The term “hidden curricula” and the idea of (hidden) normativity are further associated with national and supra national policy agendas and grand cultural narratives. However, local and regional specifics that are intimately connected to the normatively laden conceptions of citizenship education and learning inside and outside of school, we argue, can and should be provided increased attention in research. In this special issue, two school subjects are highlighted: Social science education and History education.
The very idea of normativity of Social science education and History education is being evaluated quite differently in different national educational settings and subject didactic traditions. It encompasses the whole range from being considered as allowable and wishful in order to reach some central moral, political or other normative goals of society to absolute ban and resolute absence of any substantive or normative qualification of social science and history teachers as professionals (for the German discussion, cf. Besand et al., 2011).
This special issue of the JSSE, entitled (Hidden) Normativity in Social Science Education and History Education brings together empirical, methodological and theoretical contributions that in one way or the other elaborate on normativity in Social science education and History education. Central questions addressed in the call are: How is normativity visible and formed within Social science education and History education? How can these processes be approached empirically? Is there something wrong with normativity, and if so why? Which role does normativity play for social science teachers and history teachers in their profession? The authors in this issue have created vital responses to these questions, suggesting new comparative methodologies and opening up innovative areas of empirical research in more or less theoretical framings. The following specific approaches to research on normativity in Social science education and History education are embraced by the authors:
- Normativity is stressed as a phenomenon indisputably related to Social science education and History education. But the modes of normativity, its explicitness, direction, strength and actors alter. Education policy and practice are deeply entwined, and processes of normative change come to the fore in critical and constructive investigations of central concepts in these school subjects, at different school levels and over time. Out of different theoretical and methodological approaches, the authors demonstrate convincingly the necessity to consider different sources of empirical material in order not only to map and describe different facets of normativity in Social science education and History education. But also to make a case for the complexity involved in the intermingling of hidden and unhidden normativity in the everyday practice of teaching and learning of these school subjects.
- Focusing different forms of knowledge and conceptual uses in policy and practice in Social science education and History education (at mainly upper secondary level) allow for approaching normativity not only as a matter of detecting where it is situated in these school subjects and why this is so. It also contributes to the development of relevant subject specific methodological frameworks that may be considered key for the development of this field of research.
- Sociological and other educational theories and methods deriving from social sciences are being use innovatively by the authors. In doing so, we argue, they open up for a widening of the scope as regards the meaning and importance of theoretically underpinned comparative approaches to the research field of subject didactics.
- By stressing critical concepts and conceptual uses in Social science education and History education, the intimate connection between these subjects and their assigned task to see to citizenship learning and social formation emerges.
2015. Vol. 14, no 1, 2-5 p.
Normativity, Social science education, History education, Citizenship education, Citizenship learning
Guest Editors' introductory text to the theme issue (Hidden) Normativity in Social Science Education and History Education.