Historielärares syn på historisk kunskap och undervisning om historiebruk


  • Henrik Åström Elmersjö Umeå universitet


Use of history, history teachers, epistemic cognition, upper secondary school, Sweden, genre positions, qualitative content analysis


This article analyses the potential connections between Swedish upper secondary school history teachers’ views regarding the epistemological nature of their subject and their views on teaching ‘uses of history’. In the Swedish syllabus for history, in both compulsory schools and upper secondary schools, uses of history is a more or less integrated topic. However, the constructionist view of history that could be seen as at least implicitly embedded in the concept of ‘uses of history’ is perhaps not shared by all teachers. Therefore, this article explores both the general views teachers hold regarding the subject they teach and their views on teaching uses of history. Utilising a questionnaire, answered by 375 history teachers in upper secondary schools, this analysis shows that more than 50 percent of the respondents had an inconsistent view of the epistemological nature of historical knowledge. However, when discussing uses of history in history teaching many of the arguments are still based in epistemological conceptualisations of the subject. Most of the teachers find uses of history interesting, especially ‘misuse’ of history, but they see it as an add on, as a domain of its own, detached from ‘historical facts’, and therefore they do not prioritise it. Some teachers, however, see uses of history as the very core of the subject, offering an opportunity to really show their students how history is always an interpretational endeavour, and how historical knowledge is always detached from reality. There was also a smaller group of teachers who turned their back on uses of history on epistemological grounds, as they argue that it takes away from ‘real’ history, that is, historical facts about what really happened. Even though there seems to be an open epistemological struggle over the interpretation of the subject, this struggle is only implicit because the epistemological understanding is not highlighted, perhaps because of the inconsistent views of many teachers.


Henrik Åström Elmersjö, Umeå universitet

Henrik Åström Elmersjö är docent i historia med utbildningsvetenskaplig inriktning vid Umeå universitet.