‘Hard’ facts or ‘soft’ opinion? History teachers’ reasoning about historical objectivity

Gideon Boadu


This paper explores secondary history teachers’ reasoning regarding historical objectivity and if their reasoning resonates with their classroom practices. Data was collected through in-depth interviews and lesson observations with 24 history teachers from 15 public senior high schools the Central Region of Ghana. Data was thematically analysed, with three themes forming the main lines of argument in this paper. Findings show that participants hold constructionist perspectives of historical objectivity. They recognise evidence as playing an important role in accessing an existing past reality and regard the interpretive intervention of historians as constructive in the study of the past. Classroom practices reveal minimal attention to the problematisation of historical knowledge as most participants taught history as grand narratives. A postmodernist re-orientation of the History curriculum as well as continuous professional development of teachers could help improve classroom practice.


historical objectivity; historical evidence; teacher conceptions; classroom practice; history teaching

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