Document Type


Creation Date

Spring 3-21-2013


moral development, history teaching, citizenship, divided societies, South Africa, Northern Ireland, Facing History and Ourselves, apartheid, legacies, judgment


This paper focuses on adolescents who live in divided societies and how they navigate those divisions as they develop as civic actors. The study sites are Northern Ireland, South Africa, and the United States. In each setting we collected surveys, conducted focus groups with teachers and students, and followed students through the 9th and 10th grades in a case study classroom. In all locales, the students used materials from Facing History and Ourselves, and their teachers had participated in workshops on using those materials. In this paper we follow a case study student from the United States who provides a particularly complex look at issues of division and ethical civic development. The student, Pete, is a white immigrant from South Africa, studying in a multi-ethnic and multi-racial school in the United States. He confronts his South African legacies in the context of a foreign school system, which is working to help U.S. students confront their own legacies. Across two, one-semester, citizenship classes, Pete shows us the tension between an academic stance and a moral/emotional stance. When moral dilemmas become complex for him, he begins to lose his ability to judge. Teacher support and guidance is critical to help students like Pete learn to hold their moral ground, while understanding why others act as they do.