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Posted on July 27th, 2012, by

The interpretation of history consistently affects the perception of the history by students. In such a situation, the role of historians in the interpretation of history can hardly be underestimated. At the same time, it is extremely important to avoid biased, subjective, prejudiced view of historical events of the past. Instead, it is necessary to offer a variety of interpretations which student should learn to make on their own using the historical material available to them. In fact, this is what Kent den Heyer suggests in the article entitled “R. Buckminster Fuller’s “Great Pirates”¯: An investigation into narrative analysis in world history courses”¯.

In actuality, the author is very skeptical in regard to the approaches which are widely used by history teachers. He underlines that many educators in western countries, such as Great Britain, the USA and Canada use erroneous approach to teaching the history since they are unable to adequately convey the history and past events to the modern audience. In this respect, it should be said that the author have several argument which he considers to be of the utmost importance and which affect consistently the perception of the history in the west. First of all, he argues that the history is traditionally perceived from the modern point of view and educators attempt to convey history not in the historical context but from a modern perspective. What is meant here is the fact that, according to Kent den Heyer, the majority of students is simply unable to offer a coherent narrative of the past events and the history at large. In such a way, the author reveals the ineffectiveness of modern history instructions.

However, the major problem the author identifies in his article is the problem of the division which is naturally extrapolated from the present epoch to the past and vice versa. Kent den Heyer lays emphasis on the fact that historians and educators tend to divide people into “we”¯ and “them”¯. He clearly traces this trend in the present epoch in the opposition of Americans and Muslims. This opposition is strongly associated with the opposition of good and evil, peaceful Americans and radical Muslim terrorists. The same trends could be observed in the interpretation of the past when European colonization was and still is interpreted as a civilizing process of Africa, Asian and Americas for Europeans brought technological advances, contributed to the establishment of new socioeconomic and political order, etc. However, the author believes that such an interpretation of history is erroneous and it does not really into consideration the question whose interests were protected in that epoch. Moreover, he insists on the diverse interpretation of the past because it is necessary to offer different perspectives to interpret and understand history.

This is why the author concludes that it is necessary to critically evaluate the use of pronouns such as “we”¯ or “our”¯ in order to avoid impediments resulting from the division of the history and the past on the national, ethnic or cultural ground. In fact, such a division makes the adequate interpretation of history and its proper understanding practically impossible. As a result, students cannot interpret and understand the history and, therefore, they cannot fully understand the present epoch.

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