IOE - Faculty of Education and Society


Teachers’ conception of history and historiography

Understanding and enhancing teachers' capacity to teach history in more reflective and critical ways. A project focused on teachers in Lahore, Pakistan.

2019-2020 | Funded by UCL Global Engagement Fund


Our project, a collaboration between UCL and Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS), aims to understand teachers' comprehension of history and historiography.

We are interested in understanding how teachers conceptualised the idea of history, relationship between past and present, the nature of writing about the past, as well as what were the ways in which they practised classroom teaching.

In light of this and as a step towards, we aim to design a teacher education project that will enhance capacity to teach history in more reflective and critical ways.

Pedagogical approaches

Recent reflections on teacher professional development been marked by a shift from more reductive competence and skill-focused models of teaching towards a view of teachers’ expertise involving complex context-sensitive deliberation and judgement (Nolan & Tupper, 2019). 

This has brought renewed focus on teachers’ conception of the nature of the subject and its epistemological orientations. It is believed that teacher pedagogy is deeply shaped by subject knowledge as well as by the understanding of theoretical considerations underlying it.

This connection between theory and pedagogy seems to hold for the teaching of history as well (Gestsdottir, van Boxtel and van Drie, 2018), which in this case would mean the relation between teachers’ views on historiographical issues and pedagogy. 

Quality and type of education in Pakistan

Recent reports identify the quality and type of education in Pakistan as more problematic than the issues of access or resources (Naviwala, 2016; Shaheen, 2011). This is true particularly of subjects such as history, religion and literature.

With its significant role in personal and social identity formation, the subject of history in schools is of concern to many institutions (state, religion) interested in children's identity.

Research on history as a school subject indicates that the content and pedagogy are weak and excessively shaped by ideological battles (Aziz, 1985; Dean, 2005; Saigol, 2005).

Recent efforts to improve the curriculum have been hampered by lack of teacher education initiatives. As a result, history is badly taught, failing to develop critical and reflective capacities.


We interviewed 12 history teachers from a range of government schools, covering urban, semi-urban and rural settings.


Our findings show that there seems to be a relationship between teachers’ understanding of historiographical issues and their pedagogical approaches. 

A project report will be available in early 2020.