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Levstik, Linda S. “The Well at the Bottom of the World: Positionality and New Zealand [Aotearoa] Adolescents’ Conceptions of Historical Significance.” Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association, Montreal, Canada, April 19-23, 1999.


This study examines early adolescent students’ understanding of New Zealand history. Data collection involved open-ended interviews with forty-nine eleven to thirteen year old students who identified as Maori, Pacific Islander, and/or European New Zealander.

The results indicated that young adolescents understand the purpose of history as twofold: first, history has the ability to link people with various national, racial, and ethnic histories and second, it provides people with a window to the rest of the world. As such, these students understood history as opening people up to the possibility of understanding that there are multiple ways of interpreting the past and thus varying ways in which people participate in a multicultural society in the present. Levstik concludes that students’ perception of their global and national position frames their understanding of how they think about and learn history and how they assign significance to what they learn about New Zealand history.

Ana Laura Pauchulo