On 31 October 2014 Katrin Kello will defence her doctoral thesis "The functions and contexts of general education history teaching: social and professional representations in Estonia and Latvia" in the Council of the Faculty of the Social Sciences and Education.
Professor Halliki Harro-Loit, University of Tartu
Professor János László, Institute of Cognitive Neurosciences and Psychology, Research Centre of Natural Sciences of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences
In today's pluralised societies and globalised world, general education meets a diversity of expectations. For the school subject History this means choosing from among, or finding a balance between, possible tasks such as fostering national identity, providing an overview of humanity's past, enhancing critical thinking and contributing to the development of general competencies.
This PhD thesis focuses on the range of understandings and expectations of general education history teaching, and on the perceptions of these expectations in Estonia and Latvia, on several levels: society, curriculum, and teachers. On the one hand, the dissertation focuses on general understandings, including both social and professional representations, particularly in Estonia. On the other hand it studies history teachers' concepts and professional positions against the backdrop of this range of positions. The first aspect is studied based on earlier research, curriculum materials, and analysis of the Estonian Teachers' Newspaper articles published over a decade from 1999 to 2008. The other aspect is studied based on 53 individual interviews with Estonian and Latvian history teachers.
The papers published as part of this dissertation show what choices and tensions school history teaching undergoes as a result of the concurrent existence of different, at times contradictory, understandings and expectations; how history teachers perceive and represent themselves, including as intermediaries between the understandings and expectations, and what action choices they see as available. Focusing on different aspects of the school subject, the papers illustrate how the newspaper articles as well as teachers' individual perspectives are shaped simultaneously by individual characteristics and 'objective' socio-cultural positions.