Problem of anachronism in history teaching: An analysis of fictional texts in social studies and history textbooks

İbrahim Hakkı Ozturk


Anachronism refers to an error on the date and period of an event or phenomenon. This error may be on factual information or explanations as well as on the concepts, points of view and mindsets. Three types of anachronism are reported: anachronism of facts, anachronism of language, anachronism of perspective. The anachronism of language and perspective refers to the usage of current concepts and perspectives to explain and elucidate the historical events and facts. This error is usually an outcome of presentism. Presentism is the reflection of the today's needs, problems and perspectives on the history writing . This is actually an inherent problem that cannot be avoided in history writing. However, this also leads to grave anachronism problems. Anachronistic faults are frequent in not only history writing but also in preliminary and elementary school history teaching. A recent practice in social studies and history textbooks in Turkey requires further attention to this issue. Fictional texts created by the textbook writers are used in the textbooks to narrate the historical events and incidents, with the people of the time being the narrators. This article analyzes these texts in terms of anachronism errors. The major goal of the study is to investigate as to whether the writers attribute their personal views, the current notions or perspectives to the historical persons and whether they properly present the past perspectives. The study carries out a research on four textbooks based on a qualitative content analysis. The research findings reveal that the writers of the textbooks do not display a satisfactory level of awareness with respect to presenting properly the perspectives, the viewpoints and approaches dominant of the time they are narrating. Attribution of current interpretations and facts to the past event leads to a number of flaws and errors in the fictional texts at the books. It is particularly observed that significant factual and interpretative errors have emerged in the explanation of the past events, use of the notions and changes in the perception of time and space.


Anachronism; History education; Social studies education; Textbooks

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