Teaching Ethnic History in School: Experience from the West and the Case of Jewish History in the Former Soviet Union. A Literature Review

September, 2010
This article discusses the teaching of ethnic history in the public school system. It argues that the struggle for human rights, the ideology of multiculturalism, and concern for the psychological well-being of ethnic minorities encourage the teaching of ethnic history in many countries. At the same time, the importance of emphasizing a common identity among youth, together with the psychological difficulties of teaching different and often contradictory historical narratives, are listed as possible obstacles on the way towards a multicultural curriculum.
This article reviews the results of numerous studies that demonstrate how students belonging to ethnic majorities and minorities differ in their historical knowledge, trust of teachers and texts, motivation to study history, and perception of the material. The experience of teaching Jewish history in the former Soviet Union reviewed, and directions for further research are suggested.
Updated: Oct. 03, 2010