Academic journal article Canadian Ethnic Studies Journal

Historical Consciousness and the "French-English" Divide among Quebec History Teachers

Academic journal article Canadian Ethnic Studies Journal

Historical Consciousness and the "French-English" Divide among Quebec History Teachers

Article excerpt


Teacher historical consciousness influences pedagogical practices in the national history ciassroom. Its study within the context of societies with ambiguous ethnic dominance like Quebec fosters a better understanding of how teachers signify past inter-group relations for knowing and orienting themselves toward the "Other." Quebec's blurred majority/minority demarcations between Francophones and Anglophones, as well as its common but non-consensual history program for its parallel school system, provides innovative and productive ground for such research. This article discusses a study conducted on inter-group attitudes and mutual in-class treatment between Francophone and Anglophone history teachers when teaching the Secondary Four, History of Quebec and Canada course in Montreal. Whereas most Francophone respondents displayed an indifference to the social realities and historical experiences of Quebec Anglophones, all Anglophone respondents demonstrated a sense of empathy toward the former. As this discrepancy reflects each group's sociological status, it also implies a dissimilarity in how research participants historicize the "French-English conflict" in Quebec's past. In this context, the non-recognition of Anglo-Quebecois moral and historical agency possibly explains the prevalent indifference among Francophone respondents.


La conscience historique des enseignants influence leurs pratiques pedagogiques Iorsqu'ils enseignent I'histoire nationale. Dans une societe a dominance ethnique ambigue comine le Quebec, I'etude de cette conscience permet de comprendre le sens que donnent les enseignants aux relations intergroupes du passe pour mieux se reconnaTtre et se positionner par rapport a I'Autre. La demarcation majoritaire/minoritaire floue entre francophones et anglophones ainsi que le curriculum d'histoire commun, mais non-consensuel, offre un terrain fertile pour la recherche. Cet article presente les resultats d'une etude sur les attitudes intergroupes et le traitement du programme d'histoire du Quebec et du Canada par les enseignants francophones et anglophones respectivement en quatrieme secondaire a Montreal. Si la plupart des repondants francophones manifestent de I'indifference face aux realites sociales et aux experiences historiques des Angloquebecois, tous les repondants anglophones manifestent de I'empathie envers les premiers. Reflet du statut sociologique distinct de chaque groupe, cette divergence implique une dissemblance dans la maniere dont les repondants historicisent le conflit francais-anglais. Dans cette optique, le fait de ne pas reconnaitre I'historicite des Anglo-quebecois pourrait expliquer I'indifference des repondants francophones.


Until the 1960s, two different historical narratives were transmitted to French- and English-speaking students in Quebec, both reflecting the collective memories of each group. In general, Francophones were taught la survivance or the preservation of their French heritage and Catholic religion, with its accompanying morals and values, while Anglophones were taught about the redemptory magnificence and virtues of the British Empire (Trudel and lain 1970; Roy et al. 1992; Levesque 2004). This politically sanctioned duality changed with the Quiet Revolution, as did the province's sociopolitical landscape, necessitating reform in how history was taught in schools. As French Canadians in Quebec started to gradually identify themselves as les Quebecois, circumscribed by the province's geographical and, henceforth, "national" boundaries, they became responsible for socializing all Quebec citizens, not just members of their own group. Soon enough, decades-old imperatives of preserving and regenerating their heritage were confronted by the exigency of incorporating Quebec's linguistic, religious, and ethnic diversity into the official historical narrative transmitted in schools. For the first time, a common ministry of education was created and a uniform curriculum for all students was advocated? …

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