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1The questions raised by the relations between research and the teaching of history, between academic and pedagogical content, have returned to the spotlight with the reforms to teacher training conducted under the project “Refounding the School System,” launched in 2012 by the then minister of education, Vincent Peillon. This initiative puts the instructional process at the center of the reform, effecting a “pedagogical turn” in teacher training and implementing corresponding changes to the competitive examinations (or concours) through which teachers in France are recruited.

2In a fairly abrupt way, the reform poses the question of the place of an introduction to research in the new master’s degrees in teaching, education, and training (Métiers de l’enseignement, de l’éducation et de la formation). Based in universities and in the new graduate schools dedicated to teacher training (Écoles supérieures du professorat et de l’éducation, ESPEs), the coordinators of these programs have difficulty balancing the subject “blocks”—knowledge of the discipline, research, didactics, and professional competencies—imposed by the Department of Education’s prescribed “course models.” It is clear that this “balance” is most often achieved in the first year of the master’s course to the detriment of an introduction to research, raising the “old” question of the articulation of the courses’ academic (or “scientific”) component with their pedagogical content (often referred to as “didactic” and “professional”). To better understand the issues at stake, it is helpful to consider how this articulation was achieved in some of the earlier attempts to introduce “pedagogical” tests into the French system’s recruitment examinations.

Pedagogical and Professional Tests in Teacher Recruitment Examinations

3In 1898, while he was chair of the examining board for teaching qualifications in history and geography (a position he held from 1892 to 1899), Ernest Lavisse introduced what was described as a “directly professional” test, requiring candidates to explain how they would present a particular subject to their pupils. Considered ill-prepared and misunderstood by Lavisse himself and by his successors in the role, this pedagogical test was effectively transformed into a lesson on an off-curriculum topic, before it ceased to be a test of professional competency in 1920. Nevertheless, until 1969 candidates had to provide an attestation that they had undertaken classroom observation before they could enroll for the examination. In 1899, Lavisse, with the support of Gabriel Monod, proposed the introduction of a probationary period that would take place after the examination and be accompanied by practical and theoretical training, but his request was turned down. [1] It should be noted, however, that the desire to “pedagogically” orient teacher recruitment was effectively correlated with the setting of civic objectives.

4In a celebrated text on the teaching of history dating from 1937, Marc Bloch and Lucien Febvre took a clear stance on the pedagogical component of the recruitment examinations: in their opinion, an introduction to research took precedence over “pedagogy.” [2] The two historians were in no way scornful of pedagogy, and it was not their intention to separate researchers from secondary-school teachers. Indeed, they considered this link essential to the foundation of the social legitimacy of history teaching in universities, and thus defended the idea of the unity of history teaching from primary school to university. In this respect, their position was no different from that of Lavisse, who also argued in favor of the interdependence of the three levels of education: primary, secondary, and higher. [3] However, Bloch and Febvre advocated the teaching of a “true,” or “useful” pedagogy, specifying that it should not be included in teacher recruitment examinations and that the “testing of a candidate’s ability to teach” should not be confused with the “mere prefiguration” of teaching. [4]

5This position lies at the heart of what is sometimes referred to (most often disparagingly) as the “consecutive model” of teacher training: “initial” training in the discipline leading to a competitive examination of candidates’ mastery of their “academic” subject, followed, for those who pass, by a period of pedagogical training in the classroom under the guidance of experienced teachers. It was not until 1952 and the creation of the Certificate of Aptitude in Secondary Teaching (Certificat d’aptitude au professorat de l’enseignement du second degré, CAPES) that this consecutive model was implemented (it was extended to the higher level of teaching qualification, the agrégation, in 1985). For a year after the examination, successful candidates undertook periods of fieldwork or placements—including one that involved teaching lessons in the classroom—and underwent pedagogical training. This arrangement allowed them to “enter progressively” into the profession, but maintained the separation between training in the discipline, referred to as academic training, and pedagogical training in the classroom. Most European countries, on the other hand, adopted a different system, the so-called “concurrent” training model, in which professional training and study of the academic subject are undertaken simultaneously.

6The first attempt to make the “consecutive” model more flexible by introducing a so-called professional element at the earliest stages of teacher training dates from 1991 and the decision to introduce a “professional competency test” into the oral component of the CAPES. This test gave candidates a choice between two options: a presentation of observation notes taken in classroom teaching situations, or the analysis of a set of documents of a historiographical and epistemological nature provided by the examiners. The disappointing results of the first option partly explain the decision taken after the 1993 legislative election—which saw François Mitterrand’s Socialist Party dramatically lose its majority in the National Assembly and the formation of a government headed by Édouard Balladur—to offer only the second option, which became the épreuve sur dossier (ESD). This decision led to tension among members of the CAPES examining board between those who attached greater importance to the professional and pedagogical dimensions—including certain regional pedagogical inspectors—and those who advocated the epistemological and historiographical orientation. These tensions reenacted the old dualism between the academic and the pedagogical in the debate on teacher training. Nevertheless, the implementation of the ESD, shaped by successive examining boards and documented in their reports, completely eliminated neither the professionalizing dimension (candidates had to analyze school curricula during the oral component of the assessment) nor the “citizenship” aspect (part of the interview was devoted to civic education). Though the proponents of the “epistemological” orientation might appear to have gained the upper hand, the new equilibrium may thus be considered a compromise, which explains why it was effectively supported by the inspectors general who have chaired the examining board since the introduction of the ESD. This compromise also explains why some members of the panel examining the oral “academic lesson” component (which remains exclusively a test of the candidates’ competency in their chosen discipline) continue to regard the ESD with suspicion, considering it to be a more or less “pedagogical” test.

7The ESD on the history and geography CAPES, which is presented as a test of candidates’ reflective abilities rather than their pedagogical or didactic skills, is thus unusual among CAPES examinations. In other subjects, the ESD can take a number of forms but has effectively become a simulated teaching sequence. As the following extracts from different examiners’ reports show, it is principally defined in terms of its didactic dimension: “the test of professional competency … aims to evaluate the candidates’ ability to analyze a didactic document” (English, 2006); “the aim is to demonstrate … an ability to elaborate a didactic argumentation” (French with classics, 2005); “the test aims at evaluating the candidates’ ability to transpose the materials into a didactic situation” (French, 2009); “the test consists in designing a teaching or practical session in connection with the theme of the dossier” (physics and chemistry, 2005).

8The epistemological orientation of the history and geography CAPES ESD became increasingly marked up to 2009. In July 2008, as discussions about redefining the content of the CAPES were taking place, a majority of ESD examiners jointly wrote to the minister of education requesting that the proposed second oral test “integrate the reflective dimension offered by epistemology, the history of the disciplines, and the analysis of the aims and contents of history, geography, and civic-education teaching, which make up the cultures of history and geography.” [5] Ultimately, the ministerial order issued by Luc Chatel’s Education Department on December 28, 2009 redefined the CAPES examinations and introduced, within the time allotted for the ESD, a component devoted to the study of a document testing the ability to “act as an employee of the state and in an ethical, responsible manner.” While this ministerial order reemphasized the threefold “academic, epistemological, and didactic dimension of this test,” it is evident that the link between the pedagogical-professional orientation and the emphasis on civic objectives was once again a key issue. Beyond the preliminary declarations of intent, it was no longer felt necessary to justify changes to the curriculum by referring to the state of epistemological reflection in the discipline, as had been the case in the past. The figure of the “ethical, responsible public servant” was nothing more than the slightly pathetic product of the identity politics of the time, corresponding to the government’s fixation with the question of national identity.

9The reform now under way represents an attempt to concretize this twofold pedagogical and civic turn within the process of teacher recruitment, under the watchword “professionalization.” The clearly stated aim is to do away with the “consecutive” link between discipline-specific training within a university framework (which might include an introduction to research) and pedagogical training offered through placements, university institutes for teacher training (Instituts universitaires de formation des maîtres, IUFMs), and, more recently, the ESPEs. Moreover, the intention to turn this decoupling into a political tool with which to resolve the defects of the education system—in particular those collectively labeled as its “inability to foster a feeling of belonging”—is strongly affirmed. The ministerial partisans of professionalization only invoke academic knowledge as a rhetorical precaution. There is no significant reference in their declarations to the interlacing of the pedagogical/didactic/professional with research practices and the epistemology of history as a discipline, as there was (admittedly in different forms) in the 1970s or during the “turn to cultural heritage,” when the new “heritage” objectives were justified by the need for a “minimal epistemological standardization,” equivalent to a “validation by academic research.” At the time, this was a question of referring to certain problematics evoked by Pierre Nora and the hermeneutic approach of the social sciences. [6]

10The expressions “professionalization” and “integrated or concurrent training” have become rhetorical operators used to justify bringing pedagogical education forward to the beginning of teacher training, and advocates of this position insistently cite the example of other European countries where the “simultaneous model” has long been in place. Important insights into the reform could no doubt be established via a sociological study of the ministerial milieu that provided the (remarkably determined) driving force behind this “toughening-up” and its particular targeting of the history and geography CAPES, “accused” of denaturing the ESD by transforming it into a test focusing on the history and epistemology of the disciplines. Numerous factors, notably political and institutional (and especially the constraints imposed by Europe) lie behind these developments, but it is important to return to the epistemological issues that they raise.

11The history and geography CAPES, with its tests that had up to this point “resisted” the pressure in favor of “pedagogization,” is a particularly pertinent test case for the issues at stake in this “pedagogical turn” in teacher training. In 2013, a ministerial text was published setting out the modalities of the new examination and introducing professional elements into the very structure of two components that had previously been entirely “academic.” [7] A series of “guidelines” and “additional clarifications” were subsequently issued by the examining board’s “directorate.” These clearly illustrate not only the predicament in which the examiners found themselves as they sought to implement the ministerial guidelines, but also the difficulty of articulating the “pedagogical/professional” with the “academic”—a point that underscores the discipline’s tradition of distancing itself from any sort of amalgam between the two. [8] This predicament is attested in a memo drawn up by the examiners concerning the “synthesis of a pedagogical nature” prescribed for the new second written paper consisting of a commentary on documents.


It was mentioned in explanatory note no. 2 that in this written exercise the candidate’s answer could closely resemble “the notes written by a pupil.” This expression has given rise to certain questions. Its aim is to suggest to candidates that in the exam they should strive to produce an ideal synthesis, one that future teachers would wish their future pupils to keep—one, therefore, that they have thought out and drawn up before giving the lesson.[9]

13The haziness of the vocabulary in this note, creating a vague equivalence between the pedagogical, didactic, and professional aspects, further adds to the impression of an uneasy compromise. The kinds of expression used demonstrate the confusion between the “testing of a candidate’s ability to teach” and the “mere prefiguration” of teaching that Bloch and Febvre warned against. They belong to a sort of “uncontrolled, gray area” of “didactic transposition,” subject to both the urgency imposed by the political will of the Department of Education (itself strongly overdetermined by an ideology of evaluation) and the reluctance of academics, who remain firmly focused on “disciplinary” content. Once again, the interaction between the political and the academic spheres would be elucidated by a more detailed study of the two milieus—the ministerial actors calling for increased professionalization and the examination board officials charged with translating the ministerial guidelines into reality.

14The examiners’ report on the 2014 session, which stated a desire to “frame” and stabilize the tests for a period of several years, confirms the difficulty of envisaging the articulation between the academic and the pedagogical. While the expressions used are intended to translate the examination’s new orientation toward professionalization, they also represent instructions to change the examining board’s practices. The theme of the links between the academic and the pedagogical recurs throughout the report as it seeks to delimit the two dimensions more clearly, in particular by developing the idea of an interaction between them and by insisting on the question of transmission: “the pedagogical dimension helps to consider the academic one, which needs input from outside perspectives, critical approaches, and a questioning of its modes of transmission.” [10] In the context of an analysis that claims allegiance to the social sciences, “transmission” is undeniably a more acceptable object than “pedagogy,” and is even felt to imply a certain scientific rigor and disciplinary legitimacy. It could be argued, however, that the political pressure in favor of the pedagogical/didactic/professional brought to bear by the Department of Education on the examining board’s directorate (and principally its chair) tends to weaken the clearly stated resolve of the report’s authors “not to lose sight of either the academic or the pedagogical aspect.” [11] It could also be mooted that the excessive emphasis on combining “mastery of the academic subject and pedagogical intelligence” risks becoming counterproductive: perceived as a sign of readiness to comply with the ministerial imperative of professionalization, it tends to obscure the vital message that in the teaching profession, one cannot be envisaged without the other. At all events, the examination board’s directorate is left with very little room for maneuver as it tries to strike a balance between the academic and the pedagogical that is acceptable to the entire “community” involved in the education of future teachers, and as it seeks to translate this balance into the practicalities of the tests.

15This rather rapid overview of the role of pedagogical components in historyteacher recruitment examinations is in no way a prediction concerning the future of the recent reform. It does, however, demonstrate that on each occasion these initiatives have been justified by the desire to make teacher training more efficient and to respond to situations of malaise, or even crisis, in the teaching of history. The new reform is no exception.

The Pedagogical Turn and the Social Function of History

16This reform can be considered in relation to a conjuncture known as the PISA effect (named after the Program for International Student Assessment set up by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development in the 2000s)—often characterized by themes such as the “malaise in the discipline” and the increasing difficulty of teaching history, together with the inevitable discussions and polemics over curricula and the mediocre results of French schoolchildren in international evaluations. In this context, the incantatory call for professionalization in the Department of Education’s recent discourse represents a convenient solution to what has been diagnosed as a crisis in teaching and teacher recruitment. [12] This point of view effectively displaces the solution to this crisis onto measures of a “technical” nature: for teachers, this means giving “priority to the pedagogical”; for pupils it results in an insistence (that is anything but new) on skills (or competencies), reified by the ideology of the “common core.” [13]

17The theme of the crisis in history teaching (and of history in general) is itself nothing new; one has only to recall the famous debate that took place during the late 1970s and early 1980s, succinctly summarized in Alain Decaux’s cry: “Parents, your children are no longer being taught history!” [14] The idea that “the privileged place of history teaching in our cultural sphere … primarily refers back to the political divisions of our social body” [15] is often put forward to explain the intensity of this polemic surrounding the teaching of history. The “Decaux debate” has also been understood as the expression of a desire to return to an identitarian order supposedly cemented, since the “Lavissian revolution,” by the teaching of a type of history described in some quarters as the “national narrative,” or roman national. [16] Here we can turn once again to Bloch and Febvre, whose 1937 article stated that teaching “reflects” a particular political and social state (they invoked the “social anxiety” of their time). But what, exactly, is the political and social state mirrored by the teaching of history? Is there really a crisis in history teaching? And what is the history we should be teaching if we are not to “miss out” on developments in the world today?

18A recent issue of the journal Le Débat devoted to the “difficult teaching of history” pointed, for instance, to an “estrangement” from the nation’s history and its alleged denigration by “young, and sometimes less young historians” motivated by “resentment toward France.” [17] What does this analysis of our social and political state tell us, and what possible “solution” does it imply, other than that we should continue to define the nation by its cultural homogeneity and the teaching of history as a necessarily national and civic discourse?

19Opposing national history and world history (be it global, connected, or other) is clearly not the best way to pose the problem. However, it should be remembered that the desire to “open windows” through the teaching of history is, once again, nothing new. In his clandestine writings on teaching reform composed during the Nazi occupation of France, Bloch emphasized the fact that:


Even in the present circumstances, it is more important for a future French citizen to acquire a true impression of the civilizations of India or China than to know by rote the series of measures through which the “authoritarian empire” was reputedly transformed into a “liberal empire.” Once more, as in the physical sciences, we need to make a different choice.[18]

21Febvre, for his part, unambiguously stated his position in 1947:


Let us teach the history of nations within the framework and from the perspective of that history of humanity which is evolving in a revolutionary manner before our very eyes… There is a continuity between Chinese, African, American, and European humanity. What will this lead to? What clashes? What shocks? But also what amazing interchanges between civilizations! There is no way to avoid these interpenetrations, these contaminations.[19]

23Behind the fixation on national history, or the lamentations over an estrangement from it, what is clearly at stake is a stance on the political and social state of France, and consequently on the role of history in conceiving the present. Historians are undoubtedly useful, then, but what are they useful for?

24The question of the social role of historians can be examined in light of the apparent intensification of public uses of history in recent years. In terms of teaching, increasing importance has undoubtedly been attached to civic objectives since the 1980s—a development sometimes called the “Chevènement turn” (after Jean-Pierre Chevènement, minister of education from 1984–86), but also referred to in some quarters as the “turn to cultural heritage,” [20] with the term “cultural heritage” perhaps being used as the new catchword for “national.”

25Like Febvre, Fernand Braudel devoted much of his time to the educational reform commissions of the 1960s, [21] and was also a staunch defender of extending history to a global scale. His stance was unequivocal: it was time to abandon the idea that history teaching’s main objective was to mold citizens. For Braudel, history “can develop a certain way of seeing and judging, a certain purely intellectual way of being, but nothing more.” [22] This position runs counter to the civic orientation that appears to represent the institutional consensus, and which can only be exacerbated by the “pedagogical turn” imposed by the current reform. Should we not, therefore, reexamine this heavy civic overdetermination of the aims of history teaching—too often considered natural even when it comes to their cultural heritage or moral dimensions—and cast a critical eye on the illusions that it creates as to its effectiveness as a way of healing society and creating social ties? “The question of the use of history,” to quote Bloch once again, “is not to be confounded with that of its strictly intellectual legitimacy. Moreover, this question of use must always come second in the order of things, for, to act reasonably, it is first necessary to understand.” [23] This observation is equally applicable to the teaching of history: is there not a danger that out of an excessive eagerness to “serve” it will, in fact, become a servant? This tension between intellectual legitimacy and utility, between history’s function as knowledge and its role in society, concerns the very status of history. The subject combines two types of knowledge: that validated by the academic community and that which pedagogical institutions pursuing social and civic objectives seek to transmit. The micro-event of the redefinition of the recruitment examinations for secondary-school teachers thus affords an opportunity to reexamine the academic/pedagogical dualism.

Didactic Transposition and its Discontents

26A historian may wish to analyze the place of research in teacher training independently of the recurring opposition apparent, for instance, in the polemic that flared up in the early 1980s between the advocates of “knowledge” (represented in particular by Jean-Claude Milner) and those of “pedagogy.” [24] It is nevertheless within the intellectual framework of this opposition that the research conducted under the auspices of the “didactic transposition” paradigm must be located. In its efforts to conceive the relationship between academic and educational knowledge, this paradigm endorses and reinforces the consecutive and “descending” hierarchy between the two, advocating the primacy and legitimacy of the academic and resulting in a system where the pedagogical components are studied after those relating to the discipline itself. It is as if, in history, the research conducted by didacticians—who propose to loosen the ties of dependence between the two types of knowledge in order to underscore the autonomy and specificity of educational knowledge—was unable to attain a level of intellectual legitimacy on a par with that accorded to scholarly knowledge.

27Moreover, the construction of this opposition, and hence its history, is key to understanding the persistent suspicion—not to say aversion—that “pedagogy” provokes among many of our university-based colleagues as soon as it enters “academic space,” even within the context of education science departments. Research in this area (whether termed “didactics” or not) is excluded from the discipline’s sphere of academic legitimacy and relegated to that of practical (or even quasi-technical) questions of “transmission.” This separation is modeled on the distinction made between the academic (seen as noble and disinterested) and the technical (considered utilitarian). The dualism is, then, of an epistemological nature—a dimension that has ultimately received very little attention in the debate between “partisans of knowledge” and pedagogues.

28Although numerous didacticians working in history have grounded their research in an epistemological reflection on the discipline, this has not yet resulted in a significant “rehabilitation” of didactics and pedagogy among academics working in the same field. [25] In fact, interchanges between historiography and the epistemology of history, on the one hand, and didactic research and “educational transposition,” on the other, have never regained the intensity of the 1970s and that decade’s project to conceive the history taught in secondary schools within the overall framework of the teaching of the human sciences. This was the point at which the transitivity between the academic (represented by the innovations of New History, following in the tradition of the problem-orientated history of the Annales) and the pedagogical was at its zenith. [26]

29This sort of research on the didactics of history has continued to suffer from the traditional twofold suspicion of professional historians toward both pedagogy and epistemology. This state of affairs is unusual, and needs to be examined in itself. In geography, for instance, research into the didactics of the discipline has helped legitimate its epistemology and acted as a lever to renew the academic subject; in history, by contrast, didactic research advocating a solid anchoring in epistemology has not played the same role. The purported connection between didactics and epistemology may even have had a dissuasive effect upon many professional historians and reinforced their traditional mistrust of epistemology, this “morbid Capua,” as Pierre Chaunu once famously termed it. [27]

30The relationship between academic knowledge as a “reference” and the knowledge mobilized in schools is classically envisaged in terms of the “actualization” of knowledge. However, it is necessary to reflect on the forms that this takes, since the “uncontrolled” incorporation of new research into curricula and school textbooks can also have undesirable consequences. It is amazing how fast and furiously textbooks (and occasionally curricula) can echo and retransmit these developments: the two world wars, for instance, are now uniformly framed in terms of the anthropological categories of the “violence of war” and annihilation. [28] For the most part, then, the discipline remains locked within a pattern of thought that maintains a rigid separation between research and secondary-level teaching, as though it were a matter of transferring knowledge from one quite separate environment to another. The division between the two worlds induced by this conception of “transposition” is reinforced by the career paths of academics, who in the current environment are less and less likely to have worked in secondary education.

31If, as the best research in didactics demonstrates, the knowledge conveyed in the classroom is not simply a transposition of so-called academic knowledge, and if we remind ourselves that the former kind of knowledge in fact derives a large part of its intellectual legitimacy from the latter, then it is clear that research activity in the secondary system must be encouraged, and that the potential contribution of teaching practices to academic research must also be taken seriously. The separation between the knowledge passed on in universities and the knowledge taught in schools is a fallacy. In fact, it is precisely the connection between these two sorts of taught knowledge (in France, academic staff are known as enseignants-chercheurs, or teacher-researchers) that needs to be explored. Knowledge in higher education is too often presented as “pure” academic knowledge. This short-circuiting is also a sort of epistemological show of force that produces a “legitimizing effect” favorable to the academic sphere. It thus contributes to maintaining the separation between the two types of taught knowledge, despite the fact that the link between the teaching of history in higher education and in secondary schools has long been both a sociological reality and a much-vaunted specificity of the French system. As Febvre clearly set out in 1947:


Because the strength and the dignity of secondary education reside in the fact that it is both the seedbed of higher education and a hive of active research. Because what we must teach is the knowledge not of yesterday, but of today. Because it is only collaboration between the worlds of teaching and research that can renew and save our educational system.[29]

33The history teacher, then, cannot and should not be unaware of developments in research. Conversely, can the historian writing history conceivably remain unaware of what is being taught in schools, as if he or she were the holder of a pure form of knowledge untainted by contact with social reality? [30] For to a large extent it is the teaching of history that constitutes its social impact, and this cannot be reduced to its civic and identitarian objectives. There is certainly an interweaving and interdependence between the social legitimation of university teaching by reference to the secondary system, and the intellectual legitimation of secondary-school teaching by reference to university scholarship. But would it not be better to move beyond this and explore the epistemological cross-fertilization between these two “worlds,” considering them as interlinked knowledge practices? Certain propositions drawn from the history of science and technology, for instance, could be developed in order to reexamine the link between academic and educational knowledge. Paying serious attention to the more relational concepts employed in the anthropology of science and technology, as well as in the “sociology of translation” and “actor-network sociology” developed by Bruno Latour and Michel Callon, would enable us to move on epistemologically from approaches linked to “transposition” and “technical application.” [31] Indeed, how can the knowledge produced in the world of historical research acquire depth and robustness other than by being taught at every level, buttressed and reshaped by teachers who are full participants in the process of socializing research and constructing socio-pedagogical networks? As far as the teaching of educational knowledge is concerned, these initiatives have so far only rarely been implemented. But it seems highly probable that they would enable historians to profoundly reshape the history of their discipline by integrating, in equal proportions, the practices of historical research and the practices and productions of taught history. [32]


  • [*]
    This article was translated from the French by Rodney Coward and edited by Chloe Morgan and Stephen Sawyer.
  • [1]
    Jean Leduc, “L’épreuve sur dossier du CAPES de 1994 à 2009,” Cahiers d’histoire immédiate 37–38 (2010): 319–36,
  • [2]
    Marc Bloch and Lucien Febvre, “Pour le renouveau de l’enseignement historique,” Annales d’histoire économique et sociale 9, no. 2 (1937): 113–29.
  • [3]
    On the topic of the Annales and the teaching of history, see Olivier Dumoulin, “Les Annales d’histoire économique et sociale face au problème de l’enseignement de l’histoire,” special issue, Revue d’histoire moderne et contemporaine (1984): 19–30.
  • [4]
    Bloch and Febvre, “Pour le renouveau de l’enseignement historique,” 121–22.
  • [5]
    Present author’s archives.
  • [6]
    Christian Delacroix and Patrick Garcia, “L’inflexion patrimoniale : l’enseignement de l’histoire au risque de l’identité,” Espaces Temps 66/67 (1998): 111–36.
  • [7]
    Ministerial order of April 19, 2013, detailing the new organization of the CAPES,
  • [8]
    It must be added that, depending on the university and the discipline, the academic community is more or less involved in the preparation (when it exists) of the teacher recruitment examinations; some professors, for instance, are less willing than others to undertake this (daunting) task. Moreover, with the history and geography CAPES, differences in the disciplinary cultures are a further differentiating factor: academic geographers tend to be less available to participate in the preparation of the examinations than historians. All these elements (which, for want of “empirical” research into these questions, are not clearly understood) further complicate the tension between the academic and the pedagogical.
  • [9]
    Vincent Duclert, “Le nouveau Capes histoire-géographie : rappel des principaux éclairages sur les épreuves d’admissibilité et d’admission,” explanatory note no. 3 (December 10, 2013), FINAL_FINAL.pdf.
  • [10]
    Duclert, examiners’ report, “Concours du second degré. Capes externes. Section : Histoire-Géographie. Session 2014 rénovée,” p. 17, HIST_-_GEO_-_SESSION_2014_Renove_346569.pdf.
  • [11]
    The examiners’ report is in fact a combination of several contributions: the chairperson is the main author, but other members also write parts of the document (the section on the second oral test, for example, is drawn up by two of the test’s examiners). This explains the differences in interpretation that can be detected in the various contributions, for instance concerning the link between the academic and the pedagogical elements. Even if the overall responsibility for the report lies with the chairperson, he or she cannot completely “control” (or “censure”) what the other contributors—themselves under the responsibility of their respective vice-chairpersons—write. The drafting of the report via this subtle process (or circuit, to borrow the term used by Patricia Legris), which translates informally the state of the intellectual consensus and thus the power relationships within the examining board, is difficult to decipher and remains practically invisible to readers of the report.
  • [12]
    Christian Delacroix, François Dosse, and Patrick Garcia, “La professionnalisation incantatoire comme panacée pour la formation des enseignants ?,” open letter addressed to Vincent Peillon, Minister of Education, Carnet du réseau historiographie et épistémologie de l’histoire, January 2013,
  • [13]
    The common core of knowledge and skills, enshrined in Law no. 2005-380 of April 23, 2005, a revised version of which was published in 2014. See the largely positive presentation of this legislation in Vincent Capdepuy and Laurence De Cock, “Satisfecit à propos du nouveau socle,” Aggiornamento hist-geo, June 30, 2014,
  • [14]
    See Patricia Legris, “On n’enseigne plus l’histoire à nos enfants ! Retour sur la polémique de l’enseignement de l’histoire en France au tournant des années 1970-1980,” in Julien Barroche, Nathalie Le Bouëdec, and Xavier Pons, eds., Les figures de l’État éducateur. Pour une approche pluridisciplinaire (Paris: L’Harmattan, 2008), 197–224.
  • [15]
    Antoine Prost, quoted in Patrick Garcia and Jean Leduc, L’enseignement de l’histoire en France, de l’Ancien Régime à nos jours (Paris: Armand Colin, 2004), 213.
  • [16]
    Laurence De Cock and Emmanuelle Picard, eds., La fabrique scolaire de l’histoire. Illusions et désillusions du roman national (Marseille: Agone, 2009); Vincent Chambarlhac, “Les prémisses d’une restauration ? L’histoire enseignée saisie par le politique,” Histoire@Politique. Politique, culture, société 16, no. 1 (2012): 187–202.
  • [17]
    Pierre Nora, “Difficile enseignement de l’histoire,” Le Débat 175 (2013): 3–6, citation p. 4. On this issue of Le Débat see Vincent Capdepuy, “Le déni du monde,” Aggiornamento hist-geo, June 17, 2013,; Suzanne Citron, “Difficile enseignement de l’histoire ? Le Débat 175, un dossier contrasté,” Aggiornamento hist-geo, September 6, 2013,
  • [18]
    Marc Bloch, “Sur la réforme de l’enseignement,” note written for publication in Cahiers politiques (1944), cited in Marc Bloch, L’histoire, la guerre, la Résistance, ed. Annette Becker and Étienne Bloch (Paris: Gallimard, 2006), 790–91.
  • [19]
    Maurice Grandazzi, “Les journées d’études pour l’enseignement de l’histoire (13, 14 et 15 juillet 1947),” Revue universitaire 4 (July–October 1947), cited in Patricia Legris, “L’écriture des programmes d’histoire en France (1944–2010). Sociologie historique de la production d’un instrument d’une politique éducative” (PhD diss., University of Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne, 2010), 95, available at This dissertation has been published in an abridged version: Legris, Qui écrit les programmes d’histoire ? (Grenoble: Presses universitaires de Grenoble, 2014).
  • [20]
    Delacroix and Garcia, “L’inflexion patrimoniale.”
  • [21]
    Patricia Legris, “La marginalisation des universitaires,” in Legris, “L’écriture des programmes d’histoire en France,” 160–73.
  • [22]
    Fernand Braudel, L’histoire au quotidien (Paris: Éd. de Fallois, 2001), 120, cited in Legris, “L’écriture des programmes d’histoire en France,” 173.
  • [23]
    Marc Bloch, The Historian’s Craft, trans. Peter Putnam (New York: Vintage, 1953), 9.
  • [24]
    Baptiste Jacomino, “La controverse française sur l’école : essai de cartographie,” Le philosophoire 33, no. 1 (2010): 57–70. For a critical viewpoint on the “anti-pedagogical” tradition see Pierre Kahn, “La critique du ‘pédagogisme’ ou l’invention du discours de l’autre,” Les sciences de l’éducation. Pour l’Ère nouvelle 39, no. 4 (2006): 81–98.
  • [25]
    See in particular Nicole Lautier, À la rencontre de l’histoire (Villeneuve-d’Ascq: Presses universitaires du Septentrion, 1997) and Didier Cariou, Écrire l’histoire scolaire. Quand les élèves écrivent en classe pour apprendre l’histoire (Rennes: Pur, 2012).
  • [26]
    Nicole Allieu-Mary, “De l’histoire des chercheurs à l’histoire scolaire,” in Michel Develay, ed., Savoirs scolaires et didactiques des disciplines : une encyclopédie pour aujourd’hui (Paris: Esf éditeur, 1995) 123–61, here pp. 143–44.
  • [27]
    Pierre Chaunu, Histoire quantitative, histoire sérielle (Paris: Armand Colin, 1978), 10.
  • [28]
    Annette Wieviorka, “L’enseignement de l’histoire en question,” Études 11, no. 417 (2012): 475–83; Benoît Falaize and Olivier Absalon, “La Grande Guerre des manuels scolaires : entretien avec Nicolas Offenstadt,” Collectif de Recherche International et de Débat sur la Guerre de 1914-1918, 2015,
  • [29]
    Cited in Legris, “L’écriture des programmes d’histoire en France,” 96.
  • [30]
    It should be noted that academics regularly participate in the writing of secondary-school textbooks.
  • [31]
    Madeleine Akrich, Michel Callon, and Bruno Latour, Sociologie de la traduction. Textes fondateurs (Paris: Presses des Mines, 2006).
  • [32]
    Françoise Lantheaume, “Solidité et instabilité du curriculum d’histoire en France : accumulation de ressources et allongement des réseaux,” Éducation et sociétés 12, no. 2 (2003): 125–42. On these points, see the article by Laurence De Cock in this issue of the Annales.

The “scientific” and “educational” questions raised by the relationship between research and the teaching of history have returned to the spotlight with the current reform of teacher training in France. Undertaken as part of the “Refounding the School System” project initiated in 2012 by minister of education Vincent Peillon, this reform accords a central place to pedagogical approaches and “professionalization.” This article analyzes some of the issues at stake in this “pedagogical turn” for the training of history and geography teachers, particularly with regard to renewed questions about the social function of history and the recurrent challenges and reservations on the part of academic historians about binding the notions of “scientific” and “educational” together.

Christian Delacroix
Université de Paris Est/Marne-la-Vallée (UPEM)
Laboratoire EA 3350 Analyse comparée des pouvoirs
Translated from the French by
Rodney Coward
Uploaded on on 09/02/2017
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