History in French Secondary School: A Tale of Progress and Universalism or a Narrative of Present Society?

Tutiaux-Guillon analyzes how the French history curriculum for secondary education fits in with the values of universalism, human rights, democracy, scientific and economic progress, consistent with the French conception of citizenship overcoming particularisms. She finds the emphasis on national identity to be weak and that, nevertheless, an underlying ethnocentrism remains. This general curricular frame allows including topics about Europe and the World and giving past crimes and victims that belong to particular communities a place. Current contents are also partly linked with acute social problems. History teachers adhere to the universalistic approach and aim at fostering democratic progress and consensus, especially when dealing with students from migrant ascent. However, Tutiaux-Guillon cautions that a direct effect of the curricula on the youth’s historical culture and collective identities cannot be assumed and needs additional historical didactical research.