University of Oulu

Shaping young citizens : high school social studies teachers’ perceptions of patriotism in history education

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Author: Elkins, Taylor1
Organizations: 1University of Oulu, Faculty of Education, Educational Sciences
Format: ebook
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 0.8 MB)
Pages: 98
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Language: English
Published: Oulu : T. Elkins, 2019
Publish Date: 2019-08-22
Thesis type: Master's thesis
Tutor: Lehtomäki, Elina
Reviewer: Jokikokko, Katri
Lehtomäki, Elina


This research seeks to complement theoretical discussion in the field of education on the influence of patriotism in history education. Throughout history, countries have used education to impress upon young citizens loyalty and to promote national values. History education, in particular, has been curated to give these values a creation story. A patriotic national narrative is drawn in which glorified heroes and grand feats solidify the nation’s legitimacy, and inspire its citizens’ unwavering support. While this phenomenon is heavily discussed in educational theory, few qualitative studies have supported it with personal accounts from within schools. For this study, data was collected through semi-structured interviews with high school social studies teachers in North Carolina, to gain insight on their experiences with patriotism in education and the promotion of it in history curriculum. The findings show that patriotism is still an underlying virtue that dictates the historical narrative taught to students. However, it is seen as largely a systemic effort, not a pursuit of teachers. The teachers ultimately pointed to a gap between what is taught in high school history classrooms and current historical research in academia. As such, this study concludes that much of the patriotic undertones in high school history curriculum would be eliminated with the introduction of current academic historiography. Furthermore, the focus of high school history should be on skill development through source analysis, ultimately preparing students to be productive participants in civic life. And in turn, a decreased reliance on teacher’s interpretations and the dramatics of a historical narrative. Finally, the study argues for a more multicultural and global approach to history education for the promotion of cosmopolitan values and global agency. In a time of heightened nationalism around the world, this research helps to locate the role of education and historical interpretation in shaping young citizens.

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Copyright information: © Taylor Elkins, 2019. This publication is copyrighted. You may download, display and print it for your own personal use. Commercial use is prohibited.