Teaching History Master Narratives: Fostering Imagi-Nations

Carretero discusses how people in present societies represent historical master narratives in and out of school. His argument is developed in relation to current problems of school history teaching and learning and to citizenship issues. Some psychological and educational approaches, such as Egan’s ideas about narrative development, are considered. In this vein, master narratives are analyzed in terms of five common features, which help to understand how school master narratives contribute to imagining the own nation, following Anderson’s classical idea of imagined communities. These features involve a selected historical subject, an identification process, a simplified common plot, moral vectors, and an essentialist concept of nation. Upon investigating these features, citizens were found to develop a less nationalistic interpretation of foundational narratives when they are not about their own nation.