Different battlegrounds, similar concerns? The “history wars” and the teaching of history in Australia and England

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Colleges, School and Institutes


Debates about the purpose and content of history education in schools have been prevalent in most Westernised democratic nations over the last thirty years. At expense are essential questions concerning national identity/ies, competing narratives and the aims of history education. The impact of “history wars” have been felt within both Australia and England, as conservative commentators – including politicians and historians – have raised concerns about the depth and effectiveness of history education and have sought to make significant changes to the history curriculum for schools. This analysis examines the history wars in Australia and England, exploring the view that history education has been in danger and/or crisis and examining the curricular implications of a move toward greater recognition of national narratives. It raises some essential tensions that remain regarding two aspects of history teaching in both nations – (i) historiography and (ii) chronological understanding.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)861-881
Number of pages21
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 14 Aug 2015


  • history education, history wars, narratives, historiography, chronological understanding