Despite the amountof nationally-oriented research on sensitive and controversial history, there havebeen no investigations into international schoolsor transnational settings. This study changes that by investigatinghow six humanities teachers,located within Dutch international secondary schools,perceive and deal withsensitive and controversial history in their classrooms.The data was gathered with six semi-structured interviews where teachers completed an open and closed card ranking task to providecomparable data. This was followed bytwoclassroom observationsto seehow sensitive and controversial history appeared. The analytical scheme provides an overview of the organization of this thesis. First, there is an investigation into internationally oriented education in the Netherlands as a part of the socio-cultural context. This provides an overview of the two international programmes and how they align with Dutch education. Next, it investigatesthe present actors. Teachers are focused upon due to their rolesas mediators. Students are important, but due to time constraints, were not investigated in this thesis.The six teachers explained their understanding of sensitive and controversial history and provided examples. Topics that emerged as controversial history were aligned with academic controversies or topics aligned with trauma. Sensitive topics included religion, race and stereotypes. Regional themesfor sensitive and controversial historyappeared.This may be a key notion for predictingsensitiveor controversialhistory. There are also elements connected to time. More recent history, from the last 50 to 100 years, seems to have greater connection with sensitive or controversial history. However, there are exceptions, such as the legacy of the Trans-Atlantic Slave trade and colonialism within thespecific Dutch context.The observations provided an opportunity to explore the inner workings of two classrooms. This revealed important aspects of both teacher and student behavior along with how and when sensitive and controversial history appeared. An unstudied area is howsensitive or controversial topics emerge from students making insensitive or unexpected remarks in what I call pop-up controversies. In both classrooms, it appeared in the less structured, passing moments when teachers were busy with other classroom related activities. The second major finding is that teachers seemed to avoid or encouraged distance from emotions within the classroom. This is not necessarily a bad strategy but shows that there is future research needed into the role of emotions in history classrooms. This research confirmed controversial and sensitive history already investigated in the Netherlands.Furthermore, it provides new insights into sensitive and controversial topics for a transnational setting.

Additional Metadata
Keywords Sensitive History, Controversial History, HistoryEducation, Classroom Observations, International Education
Thesis Advisor M. Grever
Persistent URL
Series Maatschappijgeschiedenis / History of Society
L. Oudman. (2019, June 29). Learning to Disagree: Sensitive and Controversial History in Dutch International Secondary Schools in 2019. Maatschappijgeschiedenis / History of Society. Retrieved from