Re-thinking History teaching – Argentina.

SASHT Conference 2014
Rethinking Recent History Teaching:
Some approaches and contributions from the
Argentinian case
Laura Efron
Asian and African Studies, History Department, University of Buenos
Aires, Argentina.
 To present the historical and educational features of the recent past and its
high school teaching in the Argentinian case
 To share some class experiences and think about the achievements and
difficulties teachers have when working on recent past with their students
 To promote discussions abput the link between past and present and the
place that history has or should have in the promotion of critical thinking
Why did I choose to share these
 1941, Educational Journal, TLSA. Alie Fataar and Benjamin Kies critical ideas
about history teaching in the Western Cape.
 "The History we Teach" and "The Nazi education system"
 Thinking links between the South
Why comparing South Africa and
 Geopolitical position in both continents
 European Colonial rule experiences
 Apartheid - Argentinian cycles of democratic and dictatorship regimes
 Coup d´etat 1976-1983
Key points in Argentinian recent history
 1976 Militar Coup d´etat. State Terrorism:
political parties and unions banned
30.000 "desaparecidos"
300 concentration camps (not officially recognised)
8.600 political prisioners
more than 20.000 exiles
400 abducted babies.
 1982: The Junta Militar was forced to open political negotiations after the
Malvinas War defeat.
Returning to democracy:
Alfonsín's Period 1984-1989
 Foundation of the National Comission of Dissappeared People (CONADEP)
 1985: Conviction of the top members of the military goverment
 1987: Parliament passed two impunities laws (Obediencia debida y Punto
 First official memory: "The Two Evils Theory"
Since 2001 until today
 2003. Kircher new goverment changed Human Rights National Policy. New
National narrative: "State Terrorism" instead of the "Two evils Theory"
 2005. Supreme Court of Justice confirmed that the Impunity Laws were
against the principles of the new constitution: re-opening of cases
considered crimes against humanity
 March 24th was declared National Day for Memory, Truth and Justice
 Creation of Memory sites
Educational Policies
2006. New National Education Act 26206:
Makes a special remark in the teaching of recent Argentinian History and in the construction
of memories in school spaces.
New National Curriculum includes both aims.
Conceptual background
 The past is not static, it is reinvented and revisited from the present time
 Past-Present as a concept with multiple implications for individuals and
society in the thinking of the future (Kosselleck)
 Transitional times: special moment in which it is possible to dispute and reshape national identities
The relationship between
memory and history
 Tension between official memory and subaltern memories
 Tension between History as a cientific discipline and histories as the popular
experiences and memories
 Can collective memory be plural and heterogeneous?
 How can teachers deal with the conflicts that teaching recent history
brings into class? How can we deal with the students backgrounds and
family memories?
El programa "Jóvenes y Memoria, recordamos para el futuro"
The "Youth and Memory, remembering for the future"
Created in 2002 by the Memory Provincial Commission of
Buenos Aires.
 General aim: teach Argentinian recent history and promote the
consolidation of public memories
 Specific Aim: promote critical thinking among students about their past and
El programa "Jóvenes y Memoria, recordamos para el futuro"
The "Youth and Memory, remembering for the future"
The Programme:
- One group between six and twenty students with a teacher. Week meetings
- Bibliographical Research
- Problem definiton. Local approach. Past-Present problematics.
- Research
- Exposing the results: film, play, music performance, mural, paintings, etc.
- Special classes for teachers and students
El programa "Jóvenes y Memoria, recordamos para el futuro"
The "Youth and Memory, remembering for the future"
Sharing the results:
1. Local exposition: Inviting the neighbours to school
2. Schools expositions: Students and teachers involved in the programme go for a weekend to
a special camp where all the participants share their experiences and results
Class Research as a tool to deal with
recent past and memories in dispute
 Research opens questions instead of giving closed answers
 It allows students to get involved with the past and change their presents
 Invites students to understand how history as a cientific discipline works
 Promotes the inclusion of memories in the re-construction of the historical past
 Creates a wider and more complex view of the past, including different social
actors and interests.
 Promotes the creation of multi-causal explanations
 Gives the students a special sense of responsability as future citizens

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