Public History The Future of Teaching the Past in China

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Na Li


The traditional history education in China has been challenged ever since the dawn of the twenty first century. This article argues that public history, as an emergent and reflective practice, constitutes an effective intervention into the traditional history education in three significant ways. These three aspects are learnable, but are not easily teachable through mere cosmetic reform of the current historical curriculum; the real changes should come from outside of the established frame of reference, i.e. history teachers with public history knowledge and skills. With an in-depth analysis of three national public history faculty training programs (2014-2019), the article further suggests that public history provides new direction in teaching the past in China.

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