Amy McKernan—University of Melbourne (Australia)
Confronting histories and the learner profile investigated the ways students in International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IBDP) History classrooms learn with histories of trauma, injustice, and violence. Teachers and students of IBDP History were interviewed, canvassing a range of perspectives of learning with confronting topics and eliciting insights into the potential of these topics to support the development (or activation) of a range of learner profile attributes. While teachers and students noted that the learner profile tended not to be explicitly addressed in lessons, there were connections between practices of historical thinking and most of the attributes. Engagement with confronting histories appeared to encourage ‘international mindedness’ in a number of thoughtful and sophisticated ways, but could also result in a kind of nihilism amongst some students about the state of the world today and their place in it. Ultimately, the study identified a range of factors to be considered in engaging with confronting material that could be applied across a range of disciplinary contexts.