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Portal, Christopher. "Empathy as an Objective for History Teaching." In The History Curriculum for Teachers, edited by Christopher Portal, 89-99. London: The Falmer Press, 1987.


In this chapter Portal examines how empathy is understood as important for history learning. Specifically he questions the notion that empathy requires a particular kind of knowledge, arguing rather that empathy is a process that motivates forms of historical thinking and therefore needs to be used in conjunction with other cognitive skills for productive history learning.

The chapter is divided into four primary sections: What Empathy Is, Examples of Historical Empathy, Empathy Among Other Historical Skills, and Teaching Empathy. Throughout the chapter Portal maintains that empathy must be elevated from a marginal objective in history teaching to one of predominance. Portal’s key argument is that understanding empathy as central to history learning transforms history to a subject concerned with human actions and intentions from a subject concerned with “facts” and dates.

Ana Laura Pauchulo