London Metropolitan University Research Institutes

My life in the 90s - A young person's text faces the authority

Author(s) Nanny Hartsmar  
Publisher CiCe Publications  
Year 2000  
Editor Alistair Ross, Curricula for Citizenship in Europe  
Language English  
Age group -  
This paper discusses what happens when the anonymous authority, through essays, wants to know something about the pupils' conceptual development using their present adolescence as an example. The content has to be described in terms of the past. The task is not given because it is interesting to take into account what and how young adults think about the past. The main concern is in finding out whether the pupil can separate the concepts of past-present-future from one another or not, and describe them adequately. My paper begins with an extract from a young girl's essay. The class was writing what was then called 'the standardised achievement test' which was given to grade nine throughout the country in order to give them a mark in Swedish. I discuss the criteria used for this assessment, which are that the writer demonstrates clear thinking, putting her thoughts into words and showing her language proficiency, not the content. My question is: 'What happens with the author's invitation to a dialogue when no field of application for her thoughts is offered?' The school is only interested in, and gives a response on, how she has solved the task from the perspective of the formal criteria. The aim of the thesis is to analyse and interpret pupils' (age 8, 11 and 15) conception of time related to their understanding of history. Formation of concepts such as 'time', 'past-present-future' and 'consciousness of history' are essential in the teaching of history. The empirical data consists of three parts: associations to 'time', 'past' and 'future' (pupils); semi-structured interviews (pupils and teachers); essays from the standardised achievement test for Swedish. (The standardised achievement test offered six headings to choose from: all focused on 'time'. The writing of the essays was the culmination of the whole test battery, which in its other parts contained text reading, control of text understanding and listening in to a tape and discussions. In all tests the concept of 'time' and the time dimensions past-present-future are in focus.)

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