Teaching the history of empire in Japan and England

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Japan has often been criticized for allegedly teaching its schoolchildren about the history of Imperial Japan 1895-1945 in selective and misleading ways. Is this criticism justified, and how does it compare with the record of another former colonial power in East Asia: England? International criticism of history teaching in England has been insignificant when compared with criticism of Japan. Yet how much are English schoolchildren taught about the British Empire? This paper is based upon documentary study of national curricula and examinations, together with observations of history lessons at several secondary schools in Japan and in England, as well as interviews with history teachers in both countries, with university students in Japan, and with high-school students in England. It argues that both Japan and England devote relatively little curricular time to the study of their respective imperial pasts. However, this is not necessarily because of a deliberate cover-up of the facts. In each country, teaching about imperialism is partly determined by the way history as a subject is taught. In order to change the way children learn about imperialism, it may be necessary to change the philosophy and practice of history teaching as a whole. © 2003 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)623-641
Number of pages18
JournalInternational Journal of Educational Research
Issue number6-7
Publication statusPublished - 2002


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