IOE - Faculty of Education and Society


Rethinking presentism in history education

21 April 2022, 6:00 pm–7:30 pm

Gathering of protestors. Image: Life Matters via Pexels

Join this event to hear Lindsay Gibson and James Miles discuss the place of presentism in history education.

This event is free.

Event Information

Open to







Dr Arthur Chapman

Since the early 2000s, use of the term presentism has rapidly increased in both the historical discipline and public discussions of history. Most recently, the pulling down and defacement of statues in countries around the world inspired by the 2020 Black Lives Matter protests prompted countless articles, discussions, and debates about presentism. The description of presentism featured in many of these discussions reveal a lack of clarity and fundamental understanding about presentism’s complex nature. 

Given the epistemological importance of presentism to the historical discipline, and its increased prevalence in academic, political, and cultural discourses, we think presentism warrants further attention from history educators. 

Lindsay and James will outline the definitions and common types of presentism identified by historians and examine the key arguments for and against presentism, and analyse how presentism has been approached in history education. 

Finally, they will make the case for rethinking presentism as a necessary and potentially productive concept for history education. 

This event will be particularly useful for those interested in history and history education. 

Related links

History in education seminar series

This seminar is part of this series. This series is exploring teaching and learning about the past in formal and informal education.

About the Speakers

Lindsay Gibson

Assistant Professor at Department of Curriculum and Pedagogy, University of British Columbia

He has published journal articles, book chapters, and books about historical thinking, historical inquiry, history teacher education, historical commemorations, the ethical dimension of history, and assessment of historical thinking. For twelve years Lindsay taught secondary school history and social studies in British Columbia public schools. He organises annual Historical Thinking Institutes as Director of the Historical Thinking Project, and frequently collaborates with different organisations on history education curriculum projects. 

James Miles

Visiting Assistant Professor at Department of Arts and Humanities Teachers College, Columbia University

His research explores the teaching and learning of difficult histories in settler colonial contexts and the role of history education in historical redress. James’ research has been published in journals including Theory and Research in Social Education, Journal of Curriculum Studies, Curriculum Inquiry, and the International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education. James also regularly works with the Critical Thinking Consortium and has co-written several textbooks and teacher resource books. James was previously a secondary school teacher in Vancouver BC for 10 years.