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Yesterday and Today

On-line version ISSN 2309-9003
Print version ISSN 2223-0386

Y&T  n.23 Vanderbijlpark Jul. 2020





Johan Wassermann


History Education Greetings,

Allow me to start this editorial to the July 2020 edition of Yesterday & Today by pointing out the obvious - COVID-19 has seriously interrupted history education activities across the world. One of the ways to respond to COVID-19 and its impact on history education is by studying it. In this regard, Yesterday & Today has already reacted proactively, having sent out a call for papers in March of this year for a special section in the December 2020 edition. The call, an extract of which appears below, is an authentic effort to come to some understanding, whilst being 'in the eye of the storm', of what happened to your history educational practices during this time.

Yesterday & Today, an accredited open-access South African journal, with a focus on History Education, History in Education, History for Education and the History of Education, is calling for papers on the teaching and learning of history in the time of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic. All papers will be subjected to a double-blind, peer-review process. Accepted papers will appear in the December 2020 edition of Yesterday & Today. Papers dealing with any aspect of teaching and learning history, in whatever form or format, in the time of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) will be considered. Apart from the more traditional scholarly papers, this special edition of Yesterday & Today is also interested in contributions dealing with: moving history teaching and learning online/ off-campus; position papers; conceptual papers; autoethnographic and self-studies; reports on history teaching and learning failures and successes; the ethical responsibilities of teaching in this time of crisis; the emerging #CoronavirusSyllabus initiatives; and curriculum and other educational innovations. Articles that highlight interdisciplinary collaboration on the teaching and learning of history will also be welcomed, as will articles that focus on teaching during and about the pandemic of coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

Apart from the academic articles that Yesterday & Today will carry concerning history education under COVID-19 in the December 2020 edition, special emphasis will also be placed on the 'Teachers' Voices' section, which explores the experiences of history education lecturers, teachers and students.

Recently, the Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAF) made their draft peer-reviewed report on Yesterday & Today available. The full report will be carried in Yesterday & Today as soon as it is published. At this stage, I would like to make two comments on the preliminary report. The first is to acknowledge the incredible work done by my predecessor as editor-in-chief, Dr Pieter Warnich, and the co-editors and editorial board members who worked with him. The report is testimony to their work. The second is to start working in a proactive manner with the suggested improvements identified by the review panel. These include:

Improving the book review section

Broadening the appeal of Yesterday & Today to scholars in African countries other than South Africa

In terms of the book reviews, the current edition, in my view, already shows an improvement. At the same time, moves are afoot to improve the standing of Yesterday & Today across the African continent and beyond. Evidence of this will hopefully be seen in the December 2020 edition.

Another change in the current edition of Yesterday & Today is the appointment of a new editorial board. Standing members were asked via email if they wanted to continue as members of the editorial board; those who responded positively were appointed for another term. The vacancies that arose in the process were filled with fresh scholarly faces, who, I am confident, will help take Yesterday & Today to new heights.

Finally, allow me to reflect on the articles featuring in this edition of Yesterday & Today.

In the first article, Carol Bertram uses Bernstein's pedagogic device as a framing heuristic to trace the shifts in the South African school history curriculum from 1995 to 2019. She focuses on how the instructional and regulative discourses have changed over the past 25 years. The article is a detailed case study of how curriculum design is influenced by selection logics that are both internal and external to the discipline of history, and which reflect curriculum-making as a process fraught with tensions and fractures.

In their article, Karen Harris and Ria van der Merwe reflect on a recently developed component of a postgraduate Honours module introduced in the Department of Historical and Heritage Studies at the University of Pretoria in collaboration with the university archive. The module involved students engaging with un-inventoried, virgin, primary documentation emanating from the Museum of the Transvaal Education Department. The brief required students to consider the research potential of the material and to present their findings at a colloquium entitled 'What's in the Box?' Based on the project, Harris and Van der Merwe argue that the success of this component of the course took the students a step further in the making of history and thus exposed them to experiential learning and what could be termed the 'inner workings' of the historians' craft.

In his article, Roland Ndille engages with one of the greatest worries of African states post-independence, namely, how to maintain national cohesion amongst the multiplicity of ethnic groups that characterise these states. He argues, that even in the midst of a turbulent central African region, until the advent of neoliberalism and multiparty politics in 1990, national integration had been a major educational ideology in Cameroon that contributed to the peace and stability for which the country was known. He concludes by highlighting the social relevance of a curriculum within which history education should be re-invented as a vector for peace, unity and national integration in the country.

In the final academic article, Francois Cleophas creates an institutional sports biography of Zonnebloem College in Cape Town prior to 1950. He starts by motivating for a decolonising format and lays out what the elements of such a format would entail. Thereafter, he presents the historical developments of sport at Zonnebloem College. Finally, the article presents teachers and learners with sample questions which they could consider using in their local context to rewrite the existing institutional sports biographies of institutions.

Finally, in the first of the 'hands-on' articles, Martina Jordaan unpacks how students in a Faculty of Engineering, Built Environment and Information Technology, during their 40 hours of community service, brought about a massive improvement to the Irene Concentration Camp which was erected during the South African War (1899-1902). In the second 'hands-on' article, Lucille Dawkshas shares her innovative experiences of using graphic organisers to teach history at a high school.

Happy reading,

Johan Wassermann


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