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History Education in the U.S. and Canada: Imagining the Nation in a Globalising World

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This article explores the role of history education in imagining the nations of the United States and Canada within the global order. Following Anderson’s (1991) concept of nations as ‘imagined communities’, compulsory history classes are key sites for imagining the nation. I provide an overview of the discourses of national identity and relevant research on history education in each nation. Wertsch’s (2002) synthesis of narrative theories provides a useful framework for understanding how narratives work together to construct the limits on the discourse of national identity. Observing three U.S. and two Canadian secondary history classes engaged in the study of World War II, I identify the schematic narrative templates that render the United States as a “reluctant hegemon” and Canada as uncertain of its claim to nationhood. The article concludes with a discussion of the need to critically read and rewrite the national narrative.
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Keywords: Canada; United States; curriculum; history instruction; national identity

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2012

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  • World Studies in Education is a bi-annual, refereed, international journal offering a global overview of significant international and comparative education research. Its focus is on educational reforms and policy affecting institutions in the global economy.
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