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Seixas, Peter. “Schweigen! Die Kinder! or Does Postmodern History Have a Place in the Schools?” In Knowing, Teaching and Learning History: National and International Perspectives, edited by P. Stearns, P. Seixas & S. S. Wineburg, 19-37. New York: New York University Press, 2000.


In this chapter Seixas offers suggestions for history educators using three specific approaches: 1) the collective memory approach; 2) the disciplinary approach; and 3) the postmodern approach.

Collective memory is defined as “enhancing collective memory” which refers to teaching the past as how it happened. Within this approach arguments are made for the need to teach history from an agreed upon perspective of how the past unfolded. The disciplinary approach encourages teachers to teach students to understand the past based on a variety of documents. Grounded in the assumption that students will consequently learn how to use disciplinary criteria, disciplinary history equips students with the necessary skills to interpret the inevitable contradictions there are between different accounts of the past. Thus, this approach counters the assumption of a single narrative on which the collective memory approach is based. Lastly, the postmodern approach asks students to understand how the past is constructed by different groups rather than to arrive at the most appropriate historical narrative. This approach rejects notions of objectivity and truth on which the two previous approaches rely. While all of these approaches have problems, Seixas argues that one of the main concerns for history education is to involve students in social and political debates about the meaning of the past and how to engage with the past in the present.


Ana Laura Pauchulo