Understanding of History among Tribal and Non-Tribal Children and Adults

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Shalini Dixit


International Education and Research Journal, Volume 2, Issue 10, p.30-33 (2016)




Development of Historical Understanding; Culture and Learning; Learning of History; Culture and Cognition


It has been observed that historical understanding (HU) is a cluster of various mental abilities, about which there is no substantial body of literature available (Dixit and Mohanty, 2009). In view of the problems and issues in the existing body of literature on HU, this study sought to explore aspects of HU in two cultural groups. Two studies were undertaken. Study 1 explored the developmental pattern of HU among 9-to-14- year- old children from two cultural groups- 30 Santali (a tribal community in India) and 30 non-tribal-urban children. The Test of Historical Understanding (Dixit and Mohanty, 2009) was used to assess development of HU in children, followed by an interview about their idea of history and past. The results showed significant effect of age and cultural groups on the test performance. In order to further explore the socio-cultural context of Santali children's HU, Study 2 was undertaken. It examined the notions of history in a group of 25- to 70-year- old Santali adults. Santali adults were interviewed to find out their notions of history, sources of their knowledge about past, and their trust on those sources etc. Their responses showed common culture-specific features. The HU of Santali adults was found to be mediated by their levels of schooling. The highest educated Santali adults showed most inclination and sense of community history. The findings of this study have implications for the teaching of history in a multicultural context, curriculum designing at elementary school level and social interactions