Caring for the past: on relationality and historical consciousness

Over the past 20 years, there has been a shift in history education away from a view of history as the pursuit of an objective, universal story about the past toward ‘historical consciousness,’ which seeks to cultivate an understanding of the past as something that makes moral demands on us here and now. According to Roger Simon, historical consciousness calls us to"live historically" to live in a particular kind of ethical relationship with the past. However, no matter how much educators might believe in the importance of learning to live historically, if students do not see it that way, even the most thoughtfully designed program in history education will never get off the ground. This paper is an attempt to see whether the notion of ‘caring for the past,’ based on Nel Noddings' ethic of care, might help us begin to address the problem of moral motivation in educating for historical consciousness.