Historical memory in Spanish and Catalonian Curriculums in primary and secondary compulsory education (1975-2015)

Isidora Sáez-Rosenkranz, Ricard Conesa, Steffen Sammler, Marcus Otto

This communication presents the preliminary results of a study on official educational guidelines in primary and secondary compulsory education in historical perspective. It analyzes how historical memory is promoted from the national and autonomic curriculum in Catalonia since 1975. Its starting point is the divergence on working with memory between the social and educational field, with special emphasis on the reparatory measures of the people who were victimized (act of the Lyceum of 2002; Law of Democratic Memorial 13/2007; Law of localization and the identification of the disappeared persons during the war and the Franco dictatorship, and the dignification of mass graves). These long-term policies have been focused on systematic work of memory in the social field, with special emphasis on the reparatory measures of the people who are victimized. However, the educational field has lagged behind as it appears as a little-worked subject in schools and institutes (Toledo Jofré, Magendzo Kolstrein, Gutiérrez Gianellad, Iglesias Segura, & López-Facal, 2015). Several reasons have been pointed out for this lack of working with memory: 1) it is a sensitive issue in a framework that privileges a pluralist approach (Martínez Rodríguez, 2014); 2) the sequencing of the contents of school subjects in general, and of history in particular, makes it focuses on recent history issues at the end of the curriculum (Martínez Rodríguez, 2014; Toledo Jofré et al., 2015); 3) the linking of memory themes with the construction of collective identity and social cohesion (Carretero & Borrelli, 2008); 4) the sensitivity of the associated themes (Delgado-Algarra & Estepa-Giménez, 2016) has come to consider historical memory as a pending subject to achieve in school classrooms. Still, it is an important topic to work within classrooms as it contributes to the development of sensitivity among students to violent episodes and conflict (Tribó, 2013), which allows understanding the current consequences of past conflicts and provides tools to critically look at the present (Sacavino, 2015), strengthening the development of democracy (Jelin, 2013) and citizenship (López Facal & Valls Montés, 2012). In short, education for peace is promoted (Tribó, 2013) and human rights (Sacavino, 2015).

But, due to the curricular analysis we might add the following results: 1) Memory as an educational content do not appear until 2001 in Secondary Compulsory Education. Since then, it is a permanent content on History school subject located at contemporary history.  Still, none of the curriculum (national or autonomic), relates memory to the concrete historical process. It always appears as a topic to work with. 2) The presence of memory as a concept in Spain is more vague and inconsistent than in Catalonia, whose autonomic curriculum improves the national guidelines. 3) Recent history contents do not have a homogeneous development. Since 1975 to 1990, recent history facts and process, were part of the main contents students should learn, but, since 1990 to 2001, recent history appears in very general terms, such as “big transformation of the XX century”. Since 2001, appears the civil war, Francoism and its dictatorship, but more concrete in the Catalonian curriculum, than the national one.

According to these results it is possible to state that memory is a concept that still needs to be developed in educational terms and, especially should be linked to the specific historical process. The lack of specific teaching guidelines might difficult the possibility of working with memory and let to teachers the responsibility to work with it.


Carretero, M., & Borrelli, M. (2008). Memorias recientes y pasadas en conflicto: ¿Cómo enseñar historia reciente en la escuela? Cultura y educación, 20(2), 201-215.

Delgado-Algarra, E. J., & Estepa-Giménez, J. (2016). Ciudadanía y memoria histórica en la enseñanza de la historia: análisis de la metodología didáctica en un estudio de caso en ESO. Revista de Investigación Educativa, 34(2), 521. https://doi.org/10.6018/rie.34.2.224891

Jelin, E. (2013). Memoria y democracia. Una relación incierta. Política, 51(2), 129-144.

López Facal, R., & Valls Montés, R. (2012). La necesidad cívica de saber história y geografía. En N. de Alba Fernández, F. F. García Pérez, & A. Santisteban (Eds.), Educar para la participación ciudadana en la enseñanza de las ciencias sociales (pp. 185-192). Madrid; Montequinto, Sevilla: Asociación Universitaria de Profesorado de Didáctica de las Ciencias Sociales ; Díada.

Martínez Rodríguez, R. (2014). Profesores entre la historia y la memoria. Un estudio sobre la enseñanza de la transición dictadura-democracia en España. Enseñanza de las Ciencias Sociales. Revista de Investigación, 13, 41-48.

Sacavino, S. (2015). Pedagogía de la memoria y educación para el “nunca más” para la construcción de la democracia. Folios, 41, 69-85.

Toledo Jofré, M. I., Magendzo Kolstrein, A., Gutiérrez Gianellad, V., Iglesias Segura, R., & López-Facal, R. (2015). Enseñanza de “temas controversiales” en el curso de historia, desde la perspectiva de los estudiantes chilenos. Revista de Estudios Sociales, 35(52), 119-133. https://doi.org/10.7440/res52.2015.08

Tribó, G. (2013). History teaching and peace education in a time of crisis. Policy Paper. Institut Català Internacional per La Pau, 9, 1-6.

Comunicación presentada en el IX Simposio Internacional en Didáctica de las Ciencias Sociales, Universidad de Barcelona, 2 al 4 de Octubre de 2019.