This investigation is an attempt to demonstrate the role of history teaching in the interconnectedness of national consciousness and historical consciousness. Because of its central role in South African history since the 1880's, particular attention is paid to the phenomenon of Afrikaans nationalism. The functions of history teaching for the orientation, identity-formation and legitimation needs of a nation-state are examined in depth. The importance of a positive self-image to a nation and conversely of hostile images of those deemed outside the nation, are indicated. History syllabuses reflect the officially sanctioned view of the past, while textbooks reveal much about the author's historical perspective, bias and prejudices. The investigation covers the period 1839 to the present, in all four provinces. A selection of school history syllabuses and textbooks of the period reviewed are examined, according to criteria adapted from the Georg Eckert Institute model. The ana1ysis is both quantitative and qualitative. Between 1839 and 1918 history syllabuses and textbooks in the Cape and Natal reflect the absolute dominance of the Imperial ideal. Yet the growing self-consciousness of the two young states is also evident. The stereotypes and master symbols which survive today have their origins in this period. Before 1879 there was little national consciousness among Afrikaners. This is reflected in the lack of historical consciousness in the curriculum of Republican schools. After the crises of 1879-81, the Republican Governments increasingly recognized the value of history teaching in establishing an identity, legitimizing their existence, and providing national orientation.
The study of book history is in its infancy in South Africa, with a small group of scholars
working in the area and little sense of a shared body of literature, which could be used as
foundational texts for those wishing ...