Introduction: Teaching History to Pre-service History Teachers in South Africa

Students often react strongly to the idea that historical narrative and knowledge is always made up of choices: what is taught, and what isn’t taught. This makes concepts of truths messy, where students can prefer ideas of a neat “two-sided” history, which suggests that the nature of historical knowledge is easily tamed into truths that can be taught in the classroom, rather than the “messy”, multifaceted nature of history.

This chapter explores the terrain of the epistemic understandings of history in pre-service teachers through an example of an engagement with the concept of “both sides of the story” as laid out by Chana Teeger in her paper “Both Sides of the Story: History Education in Post-Apartheid South Africa” (Teeger, 2015). The common understanding of “both sides of the story” becomes particularly attractive for students, even as it is particularly this concept that Teeger disrupts. This chapter aims to examine how students’ responses align with Maggioni et al.’s categories of “copier, borrower, criterialist” (Maggioni et al., 2009). This alignment shows the importance of understanding the contexts in which students work, exist, and think, and how these concepts impact epistemic stances.

The historical and present context in which history is taught contributes to the epistemic stance, as discussed by Sakki and Pirtilla-Backman (Sakki & Pirttilä-Backman, 2019). In painful historical contexts, some students display a desire for a simpler history that would not cause pain. Neutrality, as a pedagogical concept, plays an important role in this for the students as they see in it an illusion of a refuge from which to expound a pseudo-balanced, non-disruptive history. However, others want to use the concept of neutrality specifically to encourage critical thinking. The epistemic approaches these students use to justify their context-driven pedagogical choices shift and do not simply occur as a progression.

To grasp the spaces of epistemic understandings I am working with, it is necessary to have some background on the difficulties and sticking points of teaching history in secondary and tertiary institutions in South Africa.

Post-apartheid South Africa is still plagued by many legacies of the brutal apartheid system, as well as legacies of the colonial domination in which apartheid was rooted. These legacies form a large part of the context for our education system (Kros, 2010). This can be seen in the geographies of inequality in the country. There is a vast discrepancy between lavishly resourced and run private schools (with their own theatres, for example) and under-resourced schools, which may not have books, desks, or even classrooms. This disparity is the result of the legacies of apartheid and colonialism, coupled with continued difficulties in the post-apartheid era. The students are still living the oppressions of their histories, and what they are being taught in class can—if taught well—have particular resonance with their present-day lives. This makes history very emotive, as well as very important, to learn and teach, as it can provide ways of understanding the present, as well as the past.Footnote 1

The students in the classes (pre-service teachers, Bachelor of Education students) where this study was carried out are from a very diverse set of circumstances. The gender balance of the class shows more women than men, and the class is composed mostly of Black students,Footnote 2 with 4 white students out of 59 students in total. Within this racial breakdown, there are students from a variety of different social situations: ranging from poverty-stricken households to households that are comfortably wealthy. This has dramatically impacted their life experience. This diversity of background is notable in the classroom discussions. These diverse circumstances mean that students relate to history content and method in a range of specific ways. History as narrative, history as constructed, history as “neutral”, or history as “truth” become important to them because in many instances this impacts their own histories and presents. This is an almost embodied aspect of history teaching in South Africa, and this becomes—consciously and unconsciously—important for my students, as it introduces an element of their own, and their peers’, lives into the history classroom. Living in these complicated legacies and seeing their own lives as integrated into, or erased from, their history lessons can be challenging. Thus, teaching history has complicated levels of awareness about “truth”, accuracy, erasure, and what history is. The nature of epistemic understanding of history has to be explored on various levels: student, student-teacher, and also on an embodied level of the personal impact the histories have on student and student-teacher.

A Note on Methods

The research explored here is qualitative, with data drawn both from my own classroom experiences and written work from my students in one specific courseFootnote 3 (Bhattacharya, 2017). This process of gathering allows the reflections to be immersed in the narratives arising from the class (Ashwin et al., 2015). The course I draw on is a Bachelor of Education classroom at a university in South Africa in 2022. The course is a history methodology course where we examine history pedagogy for high school. Students are either third- or fourth-year students, meaning that they are in their pre-final or final year respectively. These students have chosen history as their major or sub-major and have had one year of history methodology prior to this course. They are committed to history as a subject choice and are not new to history methodology. Some students have specifically asked to be named in this chapter, rendering themselves visible as people and not just data. In these cases I have used initials, allowing identification while addressing the issue of informed consent (as students may not want to be identified in the future). Otherwise, pseudonyms have been used.

Epistemic Approaches to History: Foundations

Epistemic cognition is a developing field but with some key theoretical advances that are important for this chapter. Maggioni and VanSledright combine two different levels of epistemic cognition, respectively drawing on Kuhn and Weinstock, and are able to compare and use both approaches usefully (VanSledright & Maggioni, 2016).Footnote 4 Their conceptions of “absolutist/pre-reflective” and “multiplist/quasi-reflective” epistemic understandings of history are helpful to follow the adaptation to epistemic positions in history (Kuhn & Weinstock, 2002). Applying the concerns of this chapter, the key characteristics of these epistemic positions are as follows: absolutist/pre-reflective show an understanding that there can be right or wrong accounts of the past, but an inability to overcome uncertainty about the most plausible narratives. Thus “Whenever uncertainty cannot be overcome, knowledge is deemed impossible; therefore, beliefs are defended as a matter of personal opinion” (Maggioni et al., 2009, p. 192).

This becomes important in the “both sides of the story” narrative when students weigh a “right” and a “wrong” narrative against each other and use, rather than the available evidence, distorted ideas of “fairness”, or the desire to protect the classroom space from emotion to choose what to teach. In this false equivocating, the context—historical, current, emotional—becomes important for students deciding on historical “truth” (Sakki & Pirttilä-Backman, 2019).

The “multiplist” or, as equated by Maggioni and VanSledright, the “quasi-reflective” approach entails “a period in which individuals realize that knowledge claims have an element of uncertainty, attributed sometimes to a lack of evidence or methodological problems and sometimes to the unavoidable filtering of evidence by an inquirer” (Maggioni et al., 2009, p. 192). This dovetails with the students’ understanding that they, as inquirers, will influence the way in which history that is “told” (taught). Then their ideas of “fairness” come into play. These ideas are in turn influenced by the context in which they learn, live, and grow.

I argue these are epistemic understandings that are influenced not only by cognitive development with regard to history (as students are capable of the nuanced evaluation of a criterialist stance) but also by context. The epistemological approach is influenced by historical and present context as interpreted and lived by an individual. This can be displayed through an understanding of ethics such as fairness, systemic oppression such as white supremacy (and how that has played out in the situation and in the individual), or entrenched ideas of what “fairness” looks like. There is also an element of fear of presenting a painful or disruptive truth in a classroom.

Maggioni and VanSledright construct their own terms for epistemic stances, combining the categories elucidated above. The copier, true to the name, believes history is an exact copy of the past (Maggioni et al., 2009, p. 194). The “borrower” tries to put together a good account of history from various (often casually chosen) witnesses, but rather than applying historical thinking and disciplinary tools to the evidence, they “borrow” bits and pieces from instinctive choices of accounts. The “criterialist” is able to wield the historian’s tools and apply criteria to choices they make about the sources from which they construct their account. While this, for many historians, presents as a “correct” way to approach history, it in itself is also an ideological position. The position taken is that history is multiply and constantly constructed and that we, as historians and history teachers, construct it through our choices. I do however take this stance to be the most advanced stance in terms of historical understanding.

These explorations and terminologies are very helpful in understanding the epistemic stances taken by my students in response to the Teeger article. However, my students also showed inconsistencies in stance: known as epistemic “wobbling” (Elmersjö, 2022; VanSledright & Maggioni, 2016). This wobbling suggests tensions between the stances and perhaps the need for a contextually influenced stance. What kind of epistemic stance is required to construct a narrative whose point is to appease, and de-escalate, and remove the relation between the past and the present? A stance that involves negotiation with the nature of truth is necessary to “balance” an unbalanceable history.

“Both Sides of the Story”: An Outline of the Argument

Chana Teeger investigates how history teachers navigate the history classroom when teaching apartheid, a painful history that still reads closely onto a painful present in South Africa. The links between the present and the past are both obvious and glossed over in South Africa, and this has implications for epistemic understandings of history in history teachers. In her paper Teeger makes arguments about the narratives that are taught in history classrooms and the reasons for this (Teeger, 2015). Teeger argues that the teachers she observed, in different classrooms in South Africa use a narrative Teeger labels “both sides of the story” (Teeger, 2015, p. 1176). Teeger notes “how a variety of micro-social dilemmas lead teachers to weave a narrative into their lessons that limits students’ abilities to connect the racialized past to the racialized present” (Teeger, 2015, p. 1176).

The resultant narrative distorts historical and present realities by claiming that in South Africa not all Black people were victims during apartheid and not all white people were perpetrators. While there is evidence behind the statement—some Black people were beneficiaries, and some white people resisted apartheid—it is not representative of the larger evidentiary-based history that the majority of Black people were oppressed and the majority of white people were beneficiaries. It is this larger reality that has built the present conditions in South Africa, in which history teachers and pre-service teachers live. Teeger explains that this narrative makes it difficult for students to navigate and understand their present realities, which stem from that history.

The narrative is presented in the telling of what purports to be “both sides of the story”—a “balanced” and “truthful” history which does not favour one side over the other. Of course in attempting this (which is not actually the purpose of the both sides of the story narrative, according to Teeger), this narrative distorts the histories to try and balance two unequal sides and in doing so renders the present, as well as the history, nonsensical. It is this rendering the present nonsensical that Teeger particularly stresses as one way in which the “both sides of the story” narrative is most dangerous. Teeger points out that this history becomes about individual choices, rather than the systemic oppression and privilege that being one race or another affords or imposes.

Teeger argues that teachers are specifically not making the connection between past and present, not reading racially coded (in)equality in present-day South Africa into the past. Teeger describes the history classroom as a space where these takes on the history of the country are transferred, perpetuated, and enter society. “the article offers an account of the emotional and interpersonal considerations that play into the reproduction of racial ideologies—in particular, in an institutional context where ideas about race and inequality are transmitted to young people” (Teeger, 2015, p. 1177). History teachers in particular, she argues, attempted to minimize conflict with the “both sides of the story” narrative. “Teachers managed the potential for conflict by introducing narrative lines that limited students’ ability to make connections between past and present” (Teeger, 2015, p. 1185).

Teeger’s argument takes into account the relationship between history, historical narrative, power, society, positionality, and pedagogy. It is this nuanced take that I wanted to introduce to and discuss with my class.

“Both Sides of the Story” Argument in the Classroom: Neutrality, Bias, Desire

The history method (FET) course is intended to delve into issues and debates around history methodology, as we work with the content from the FET (Grade 10–12) curriculum. Themes in the course include decolonisation, neutrality and bias in teaching history, teaching difficult topics, and historical thinking skills, among others.

We use a dialogic approach, encouraging intensive discussion with readings to ground it, drawing on Freire’s concept of praxis (Freire, 1996).

I prescribed Teeger’s article to my classes specifically to approach these issues of positionality, and multi-perspectivity, often framed as “neutrality” and bias, that history teachers are faced with daily. These form the basis for the micro-social negotiations that Teeger argues history teachers make in their teaching. Up to this point in the course, most students had shown “criterialist” engagements with history. While some students participated critically and comprehensively with the article, engaging the questions and arguments that Teeger poses, many of the students latched onto the phrase “both sides of the story” as a good, and necessary, position for any history teacher, linking it to the multi-perspectivity that we had established was important in the course. I was at first very taken aback by this, challenged by these readings of the article and what they did to the classes.Footnote 5 However, in subsequent discussions and tasks, it began to emerge that this reading was in fact a defensive reaction to a core difficulty in teaching history: teaching the painful past in a present rendered painful by the past’s continued presence.

One of the concepts which preoccupies the students in this class is neutrality. Even after the discussion on the illusory, and damaging, nature of the concept “neutrality”, it seems to provide them with some respite from the emotions and painful micro-social negotiations that are involved in teaching history in a South African context. Neutrality is seen to provide a way out from these micro-social negotiations, and the complexities of multi-perspectivity. Neutrality and bias are constant points of debate—students want to know how to be “unbiased”, as if we do not all carry our own conscious and unconscious biases. Students seem to desire “neutrality” as if this were a space safe from the painful truths and consequences of the history they teach. This demonstrates the complexities and difficulties that these students—pre-service teachers—have to work with in the classroom and their different ways of responding to that. Some students desire the history to fit neatly into a narrative that lends itself to “neutrality” and a so-called balanced “both sides of the story”, rather than a complex, painful, multi-perspectival history. However, some remain critical of this position and call for critical lenses on how history is produced, precisely to understand the present. This kept the dynamic in the class productive, as different views were fiercely defended. This demonstrates interesting subtleties of how epistemic stances were held and shifted. A position in which neutrality is possible, or valuable, suggests a “borrower” stance, which presents cases of epistemic wobbling where students had already been thinking from a criterialist stance.

I will quote some student responses to a discussion forum below. Neutrality was seen along a spectrum ranging from a safe to a dangerous space from which to teach: it provided a way to quell disruption or to present a distorted history (in fact it does both). Ideas of neutrality impacted (or were impacted by) the students’ epistemic position on history. Neutrality was added as an analytical measure, like a criterion, to the knowledge that is to be taught. While this might seem to support the criterialist position, it does not, as neutrality is not part of historical thinking, and can in fact detract from it. Some students seemed to believe neutrality can allow you to balance historical truth between two sides (borrower stance). Others guarded against neutrality, which they see as, even as it calls for “balance”, distorting historical truth (criterialist stance). Sometimes these positions were mixed. One student expressed it thus:

The importance of attempting neutrality within history teaching is that it would allow for students to see through a fair point of view a story. The story is trying or aiming to show the best angle of a story without taking sides on which one suffered more, or why the situation occurred The dangers of attempting neutrality within history teaching is that it does not show the side of the story whereby the people struggled. It does not show how exactly who was wrong and who was right as the main aim is only for telling the story and not taking any part.—KN

The first part of the quote reads into the “both sides of the story” as if neutrality can support a simple, two sides stance, which is fair or unbiased. The second contradicts this with saying (more closely aligned to Teeger’s article) “neutrality” can obscure some sides of the story or obscure historical evidence pointing to different narratives. The weighing up of two different aspects of neutrality shows critical engagement—but the concept of fairness still remains as if the students’ choices about what knowledge to bring into the classroom also had to be guided by that, rather than concerns of historical validity. While this is a criterion, in terms of epistemic stance it wouldn’t fall into the “criterialist” approach, because the criterion was chosen not from historical thinking but was influenced by the present context and so did not stand up to historical scrutiny. The idea of “telling the story” suggests more of a borrower approach.

In their capacity as student teachers, students defended the use of “both sides of the story” as if the alternative was a one-sided history, rather than historical narratives with and from multiple perspectives. Implicit in the defence was the argument that the narrative used by the teachers to minimize conflict in the classroom presented a reliable historical narrative. It just presented a narrative that was less painful and controversial. This is a misunderstanding of the point of the article, but also an interesting approach to historical narrative, and historical truth, at once acknowledging the power of the history teacher and imagining the possibility of a “balanced” history. The misunderstanding of the article and the subsequent attachment to “both sides of the story” present an opportunity to see the concerns of students before they go out into their teaching context: if a “both sides of the story” narrative is possible, it can protect from painful and sticky moments in the classroom.

I encountered this nuanced and complex defence of “both sides of the story” in two spaces: in class debates and in written assignments, the assignment generally following the debate. The classroom debates were vociferous, with even previously quiet students ending up voicing theories and ideas. There were two main points of contention that emerged in the debates: firstly, what “both sides of the story” means and secondly whether “both sides of the story” was necessary in the history classroom. These ideas are interlinked and present epistemic attitudes towards history and historical truth which will be explored in the next section.

Epistemic Approaches to History in My Classroom

When the students discussed what “both sides of the story” meant, it was often a simple error of reading the statement and not engaging the argument of the article. This in itself displays an epistemic approach to history. The approach that “both sides of the story” is important for “fairness” (a misreading of the term) suggests a “borrower” approach rather than the “criterialist” approach. Notions of the complexity of historical truth and historical fact were mediated by an ideological approach to fairness which, ironically, distorted the “fairness” of the actual historical approach.

This occurred in my classroom for several reasons. Teaching history in South Africa in 2022 is a very tricky process, as many historical narratives that exist are ideologically charged. However, we aim for a commitment to teaching a critically engaged and multi-perspectival history. This approach is solidified and built on throughout the year. The concept “both sides of the story” proves creatively disruptive idea of how to think about perspectives and narratives rather than a “balanced” history.

One of the epistemic approaches used by students lies somewhere between the “copier” and the “borrower”. The approach shows an idea that history is a reflection of the past, that the truths of the past are what make up history—but also taking different sources which are not chosen randomly but ideologically chosen rather than chosen by historical criteria. This is seen in the students who defended the “both sides of the story” in a straightforward manner, arguing that both sides exist and must be equally valued—and this again speaks to their ideas about the realities they will face in the classroom. However, often the defence was more nuanced. Although the following comment promotes teaching historical thinking, it promotes an epistemic approach to history that suggests the epistemic criteria could change when something is controversial or creates strong opinions. Even if this is just to stress that historical thinking may be more difficult in the midst of controversy, it highlights the importance of context:

Every individual can have an opinion and feel a certain way about something, it would be an educator’s job to promote thinking for the entire class when a controversial or even opinionated comment arises.—LJ

The student is promoting critical thinking, but the student is also in support of the “both sides of the story” concept:

This is how we develop critical thinking and seeing both sides of a story.—LJ

Here, “both sides of the story” stands in for a multi-perspectival approach. This student is critically aware of the nature of historical knowledge in a “criterialist” approach; however, the attachment to the “both sides of the story” means the student has not grasped the danger of a “balancing” history.

This pushes me to consider if there might be other types of epistemic approaches to history: that of the “neutralist” and the “ideologue”, perhaps. While these would need to be put through rigorous scrutiny to be weighed for this. What happens when the idea of what history is curtailed by the desired or unwanted effect that history would have on certain people?

It is important to think with the circumstances around within which epistemic choices are made and to understand the impact that these circumstances have. How much does this impact the epistemic approach? Pre-service teachers have a specific lens on what history is to teach, which impacts their epistemic understanding. Their understanding of their role as history teachers is also impacted by our current context and their own positionality. There is a visible grappling with this impact on their view of both knowledge and pedagogy:

But as a teacher it’s not my job to feel guilty—it’s my job to teach my students the way apartheid has actually impacted the world, and how it continues to impact it to this day, no matter how difficult we find it.

But the Teeger article does show how difficult that is because we don’t want to rile our students up because of the emotional nature of the work.—BF

This should set up a conflict between the epistemic stance and the practice, but in the answers from my students, they often become entwined. This obscures the role of the history teacher in selecting (and so impacting) the historical narratives in the classroom. Maggioni et al., in their questionnaire, added questions that cover this under “borrower”—choosing from narratives without applying historical thinking skills. However, the realities in South Africa in 2022 complicate this. I tried to guide students towards a multi-perspectival history, rather than a false balancing of what would be a two-sided history. This was also conflated with neutrality, although critical thinking and using criteria were also invoked:

I believe explaining all narratives of a historical event, along with providing no personal input or opinion is how to teach in a neutral way. This also then engages the students more, engages their critical thinking, introduced them to the idea of different narratives, and allows them to understand history in a new light. It encourages students to ask more questions, challenge narratives, and be more active in research and participation.—VM

The above student is challenging my own view on neutrality and in so doing also showing how they would introduce a criterialist epistemic stance to their learners. This shows that even neutrality can be a malleable and changeable concept, filled with students’ own understandings and desires of what history should be. It only becomes dangerous when neutrality becomes synonymous with an uncritical “both sides of the story” approach, where the potential subjectivity is invoked as the danger, even as specific ethics and morals are called on to teach the “correct” moral standpoint.

Neutrality is the idea of presenting both sides of the story concerning a particular historical event. The importance of neutrality is that it can help to minimize the subjective nature of the teacher, as a person, when teaching a historical event; however, that should be carefully applied and that neutral stand must align with the ethics and morals that the teacher wishes to convey, do you want your learners to be apartheid sympathizers, which would be very unbecoming for a teacher to do that in any part of the world, or do you want your learners to be critical of the apartheid regime. I think morally speaking you’d want your learners to be critical of the apartheid government because it was an evil system.—JP

The nature of truth itself is called into question, in what students “want” their learners to be. Rather than locating this in an epistemic stance, or as critical thinkers, this student applies the specific scenario and the expected moral outcome. I encourage criticality in the class, and critique of historical atrocities is part of this. It is the framing however that I am calling into question, that a teacher can be both “neutral” and convey specific morals. My approach to neutrality is that striving for it can lead to a covering up of one’s own implicit biases, often colonial and societally constructed. I am influenced by Walsh’s pedagogy of “walking and asking” (Walsh, 2015) as well as the pedagogies of Freire and hooks in this regard (Freire, 1983, 1996; hooks, 1994). “Neutrality” is not sought in any of these pedagogies, especially in hooks, where you acknowledge yourself in your teaching (hooks, 1994). Rather, a critical lens is applied to the world, and criteria used to decide what the best historical narratives are, aligning with a “criterialist” stance.

Teeger could be read as showing that “borrower” stances are used in schools specifically to manage painful and potentially disruptive context and content. Teachers would do this in their own borrower stance, no matter whether they had previously demonstrated “criterialist” stances in class.

The idea of sources being either neutral or biased also arises in examining epistemic stances. This accords with the “borrower” stance as, although criteria are enacted upon the stances, the “either/or” makes it clear that the understanding is of two sides, rather than a multi-perspectival history, with complex narratives.

[Understanding] Bias [as] a future history teacher: this is important as it would allow me to use both neutral and bias sources. Bias when showing the people of the time who went through the situation or who wrote it from interpreting one side. Neutral when the class should see both sides without judgements which should help them guide their answers or a more independent way on what they understand/interpret of the situation.—KN

Pedagogical Implications

Seeing the positions that students in my course took, aligning them often with the “borrower” stance (Maggioni et al., 2009) spoke back to my teaching on the course. Critical thinking, critical stances, and deep debate are a fundamental part of my teaching philosophy, as is keeping the class learner-centred. I teach Seixas’ “Big Six Historical Thinking Skills” at the beginning of the course, with the idea that they are foundational for the rest of the course (Seixas & Morton, 2012).

I also have reflection as a central element in the pedagogical construction of the course and expect my students to reflect on their journey in the class: their learnings, their positions, their difficulties, the debates. In this I expect critical thinking to be foundational to their experience of the class, and I expect this to be one of the things modelled that will be taken into their classrooms as teachers.

I had expected that this critical thinking would automatically translate into a “criterialist” epistemic stance, and often, in classes, it did. However this specific discussion about “both sides of the story” showed that many students “wobbled” to the borrower stance when the context and content became “sticky” (Ahmed, 2004). This suggests, too (Maggioni et al., 2009), that the epistemic stances are not necessarily a developmental pathway (although much more and larger research would need to be done to confirm this). Sakki and Pirtilla-Backman also suggest that context impacts the epistemic approach, which is important for this chapter (Sakki & Pirttilä-Backman, 2019).

What does this suggest for pedagogy moving forward? My impulse is towards explicit content discussing different epistemic stances, as well as a clear focus on historical thinking skills, as the inclusion of these skills is so crucial to the “criterialist” epistemic stance. Introducing historical thinking skills to pre-service teachers as purely content, rather than theory, runs the risk that pre-service teachers experience them as content and tools to teach their learners, rather than tools to use to develop their own thinking.

This meta level of awareness is necessary in teaching history teachers, as becoming aware of their epistemic positions can help guide a lecturer in their students’ preparedness.


Teaching history is slippery, and the criteria, conscious and subconscious, that we create for teaching history are complex. This is evidenced in students wobbling between epistemic stances, according to the topic they are teaching, or who they are teaching it to. Each country or space will have its own form of historical and present context that ties the multiple functions of history in the classroom, the community, and the country. Unless taught from a complete “copier” standpoint, history will always be complicated to teach and to learn. History teachers need to be able to manage conflict in their own minds as well as in their classrooms. This means an awareness of the criteria used to impact epistemic stance, including historic and present-day context, difficulty, and controversiality. This chapter has shown the importance of understanding the contexts in which epistemic positions are produced and used pedagogically. Following this, the argument is made that in order to properly prepare our future teachers, those in Higher Education need to give them skills around history epistemically, and pedagogically, in a way that will allow them to deal with the contexts of their various classrooms.

This study has limitations. The data gathered is not a representative sample; rather it is qualitative data gathered through my own teaching practice, over time, and through months of student interactions. The arguments are intended to trouble and open up discourse around epistemic approaches to history, rather than provide a clear way forward.

Guiding students towards “criterialist” epistemic approaches to history and historical knowledge can help them apply their historical thinking skills in ways which will assist them in their future classrooms. This can function pedagogically as well as epistemically. It will require that historical thinking skills are taught as theoretical tools for teachers, as well as to be taught to students. Exploring epistemic approaches explicitly can assist students and lecturers grasp positions that are often not made explicit. The complexities of this continue in students’ minds, showing different stances in one statement, as shown in the words of student MF:

A safe place, a negotiation space, a debate, a telling of the truth no matter my feelings or bias, a pedagogy that does not delude or misinform your students, a lesson that allows for thinking skills where students are presented with the opportunity to think for themselves and become aware of the inequalities in society, who they are, who other people are, what happened in the past, and what they can hope for or work towards in the future.

Ultimately, we work towards the critical complexities of the past in the present, towards many hopes and many futures.