Identity in history: why it matters and must be addressed!

Teaching History journal article

Sophia Nzeribe Nascimento, last updated: 20th December 2018

Sophia Nzeribe Nascimento, a mixed-race teacher working in a diverse London school, set out to explore her students’ assumptions about who historians are. While her own ethnicity and gender may have convinced at least some of her students that history is not exclusively the preserve of old white men, she found that narrow and stereotypical assumptions about the characteristics of historians (and their work) tended to prevail. In this article she explains how she elicited her students’ views and began to challenge their preconceptions.

Her work offers useful strategies to others seeking to understand how their students see the subject and their relationship to it. It also provides important insights into some of the unconscious biases that students hold and that teachers may perpetuate: biases that risk distorting young people’s understanding of what historians actually do and limiting their assumptions about what they themselves might achieve.

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