Arbeitsbereich Geschichtsdidaktik / History Education, Universität Hamburg

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A new competency-model on monuments using Rüsen’s four types by Stéphane Levesque — and a comment

15. Oktober 2018 Andreas Körber Keine Kommentare

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In a recent con­tri­bu­ti­on to Public Histo­ry Wee­kly, tit­led “Remo­ving the ‘Past’: Deba­tes Over Offi­cial Sites of Memo­ry” 1Sté­pha­ne Léves­que from Otta­wa, Cana­da, pre­sen­ted a new model for monu­ment-rela­ted com­pe­ten­ci­es of his­to­ri­cal thin­king, using Jörn Rüsen’s types of his­to­ri­cal narrating.

The gra­phic ver­si­on of the model con­sists of four “com­pe­ten­ces”, visua­li­zed as smal­ler cog­wheels arran­ged around and inter­ac­ting with a cen­tral cog­wheel tit­led with “his­to­ri­cal con­scious­ness”. For each of the four com­pe­ten­ci­es, a short, monu­ment-rela­ted defi­ni­ti­on is given.

Promp­ted by a com­men­ta­ry by Gabri­el Reich of Vir­gi­nia Com­mon­wealth Uni­ver­si­ty, who also works exten­si­ve­ly on monu­ments in memo­ry cul­tu­re, Sté­pha­ne Léves­que added a (more gene­ral) table ver­si­on (a Spa­nish trans­la­ti­on by Eliza­beth Mon­tana­res Var­gas has been pre­sen­ted on face­book, mean­while) in an ans­we­ring com­ment, fur­ther detail­ing the com­pe­ten­ci­es in his model. 2.

As much as I appre­cia­te this new model of com­pe­ten­ci­es in gene­ral, I have also added a few comments to it (and to one point of Gabri­el Reich’s com­ment, which is not in focus, here). The space pro­vi­ded by Public histo­ry wee­kly for com­men­ting is limi­ted and graphs are (at least not easi­ly) allo­wed. I the­re­fo­re use this my own blog for repea­ting my com­ment to Lévesque’s model, and to detail it a bit further.

First of all, I stron­gly sup­port the initia­ti­ve to ana­ly­se monu­ments as an expres­si­on of and fac­tor for his­to­ri­cal con­scious­ness. Inde­ed, we need both a) to ana­ly­se them as experts by using our reper­toire of his­to­rio­gra­phic methods and con­cepts in order to sti­mu­la­te and sup­port infor­med public dis­cus­sion about whe­ther a par­ti­cu­lar monu­ment is still desi­ra­ble (or at least accep­ta­ble) or whe­ther it needs to be chan­ged (and how) or even remo­ved, and b) to deve­lop people’s com­pe­ten­ces to address the­se issu­es them­sel­ves, i.e. to reflect on the natu­re, mea­ning and mes­sa­ge of a monu­ment both at the time of its con­struc­tion and today (e.g. through pre­ser­va­ti­on, main­ten­an­ce, alte­ra­ti­on, com­men­ting or removal).

For this rea­son, I great­ly appre­cia­te Stéphane’s pro­po­sal for a com­pe­ten­cy model, espe­cial­ly the table ver­si­on from the com­men­ta­ry abo­ve. This does not mean that I ful­ly sup­port the con­cre­te model, but it has enri­ched the deba­te. Three comments on this:

(1) I doubt that com­pe­tence as such can be “tra­di­tio­nal”, “exem­pla­ry”, “gene­tic”, “cri­ti­cal” or “gene­tic”. The­se pat­terns, both as I under­stand Rüsen and for mys­elf, cha­rac­te­ri­ze the logic of nar­ra­ti­ves. I would the­re­fo­re rather read the table as “the com­pe­tence to que­ry in the tra­di­tio­nal mode” … “the com­pe­tence to nar­ra­te in cri­ti­cal mode” etc.

(2) This again rai­ses the ques­ti­on of whe­ther the four pat­terns actual­ly con­sti­tu­te a dis­tinc­tion of com­pe­tence niveaus. While I agree that the gene­tic mode of nar­ra­ting histo­ry is the his­to­ri­cal­ly most recent, com­plex and sui­ta­ble for exp­lai­ning chan­ges, I doubt – this time against Rüsen (cf. Kör­ber 2016) – that the typo­lo­gy can descri­be com­pe­tence levels.
The com­pe­tence pro­gres­si­on would need to be defi­ned trans­ver­sal­ly: From (a) a basic level of non-dis­tinc­ti­ve (and thus uncon­scious­ly con­fu­sing) forms and pat­terns, via (b) the abi­li­ty to per­form all the­se forms of ope­ra­ti­ons in the various pat­terns of Stéphane’s table (which would this descri­be a ful­ly deve­lo­ped inter­me­dia­te level), to © an ela­bo­ra­ted level of (addi­tio­nal) abi­li­ty to think about the natu­re of the­se disc­tions, etc.

For this, the model is very use­ful, full of ide­as. It can help to think about what it takes to descri­be monu­ments neit­her as “the past” nor as “sim­ply old”, but to iden­ti­fy and “read” them as nar­ra­ti­ves (or nar­ra­ti­ve abbre­via­ti­ons) from a cer­tain time, who­se cur­rent tre­at­ment adds new nar­ra­ti­ve lay­ers to them, so that their exis­tence (or absence), form, and tre­at­ment of them can always be seen and eva­lua­ted as con­tem­pora­ry state­ments about the respec­ti­ve past. To reco­gni­ze this and to deal with it in a social­ly respon­si­ble way requi­res the­se competences.

As far as Gabri­el Reich’s com­men­ta­ry is con­cer­ned, I only ask whe­ther his cha­rac­te­riz­a­ti­on of an atti­tu­de to the con­fe­de­ra­ti­on monu­ments can real­ly be addres­sed with Rüsen as “exem­pla­ry”, sin­ce this mode is not con­cer­ned with the main­ten­an­ce and sup­port of a con­ven­tio­nal iden­ti­ty, but with the deri­va­ti­on of a super­tem­po­ral rule. I would refer to the examp­le as “tra­di­tio­nal”. An “exem­pla­ry” atti­tu­de towards reten­ti­on would be more likely to be: “At all times, monu­ments of one’s own heroes have hel­ped the losers of war to hold on to their cau­se. Then that must be pos­si­ble for us too.” Or some­thing along that line.

So far the com­ment alrea­dy publis­hed in Public Histo­ry Weekly.

That said, I might add, that I don’t mean that the “gene­tic” way of sen­se­ma­king is not in some way supe­ri­or to the others, and more apt for his­to­ri­cal mea­ning-making, espe­cial­ly in its inte­gra­ti­on of a noti­on of direc­ted chan­ge over time. My scep­ti­cism focu­ses on the idea that today’s people’s (“onto­ge­ne­tic”) com­pe­ten­ci­es of his­to­ri­cal thin­king pro­gres­ses along the same line as the cul­tu­ral (“phy­lo­ge­ne­tic”) deve­lo­po­ment of Rüsen’s pat­terns of sen­se­ma­king throughout the histo­ry of his­to­rio­gra­phy. Today’s youth simul­ta­ne­ous­ly encoun­ter mani­fes­ta­ti­ons of his­to­ri­cal thin­king using all three (rather than four) 3 pat­terns of sen­se­ma­king. While the­re is a kind of “deve­lo­p­ment” of power of his­to­ri­cal mea­ning-making and explana­ti­on from tra­di­tio­nal via exem­pla­ric to gene­tic, I doubt that peop­le and stu­dents have to move from the for­mer to the lat­ter — or do so.

My own idea of deve­lo­p­ment of com­pe­ten­ci­es of his­to­ri­cal thin­king can rather be visua­li­zed as fol­lows (adop­ting Lévesque’s table):

Three niveaus/levels of competencies (schematic), following the FUER-model (cf. Körber 2015). The graph uses the table-version of Stéphane Lévesque's competence-model for historical thinking on monuments (https://public-history-weekly.degruyter.com/6-2018-29/removing-past-official-memory/; courtesy of Stéphane Lévesque by e-mail Oct 15th, 2018). A.K. 2018
Three niveaus/​levels of com­pe­ten­ci­es (sche­ma­tic), fol­lowing the FUER-model (cf. Kör­ber et al. 2007; Kör­ber 2015) 4. The graph uses the table-ver­si­on of Sté­pha­ne Lévesque’s com­pe­tence-model for his­to­ri­cal thin­king on monu­ments (https://​public​-histo​ry​-wee​kly​.degruy​ter​.com/6 – 2018-29/­re­mo­ving-past-offi­cial-memo­ry/; cour­te­sy of Sté­pha­ne Léves­que by e‑mail Oct 15th, 2018). A.K. 2018

 

  1. A “basic” niveau (and pos­si­b­ly ear­ly sta­ge) would be defi­ned by the ina­bi­li­ty of dis­tin­guis­hing dif­fe­rent modes of his­to­ri­cal nar­ra­ting in gene­ral and refer­ring to monu­ments in this spe­ci­fic case. (Young) peop­le on this niveau (at this sta­ge) will rela­te to them. They will ask ques­ti­ons (and thus exer­cise their “inqui­ry com­pe­tence”), think (“his­to­ri­cal thin­king com­pe­tence”), ori­en­ta­te them­sel­ves (“ori­en­ta­ti­on com­pe­tence”), and nar­ra­te (“nar­ra­ti­ve com­pe­tence”). But this basic niveau will not be defi­ned by being “tra­di­tio­nal”, but by an unin­for­med mixing (pos­si­b­ly only half-unders­tood) forms of all three pat­terns. This per­for­mance will be both ins­ta­ble and incon­sis­tent. Half-baked tra­di­tio­nal ques­ti­ons will stand next to unre­flec­ted exem­pla­ry state­ments, and so on. In the graph abo­ve, this is sym­bo­li­zed by the blur­red table below.
  2. The abi­li­ty to app­ly the dif­fe­rent pat­terns in a some­what cla­ri­fied way, to dis­tin­guish them and select one, to iden­ti­fy incon­sis­ten­ci­es in their mixing, etc., then marks the inter­me­di­a­ry niveau, and pos­si­ble a major sta­ge in the deve­lo­p­ment of the­se com­pe­ten­ci­es. On this niveau, at this sta­ge, peop­le will be able to dis­cuss about the mes­sa­ge a monu­ment expres­ses and the mea­ning it has for us today, but they might dis­agree and even quar­rel becau­se they app­ly dif­fe­rent pat­terns of mea­ning-making.
    In a way, Lévesque’s table descri­bes this inter­me­dia­te niveau, the dif­fe­rent forms of his­to­ri­cal inqui­ring, thin­king, ori­en­ta­ting, and nar­ra­ting can take, depen­ding from the gene­ral pat­tern of sen­se­ma­king. The table (the midd­le one in the graph abo­ve) clear­ly points at some­thing, I have also tried to express in my Ger­man arti­cle chal­len­ging Rüsen’s own idea of the dif­fe­rent pat­terns forming dif­fe­rent nivue­aus of com­pe­ten­ci­es 5: Each of the dif­fe­rent ope­ra­ti­ons (inqui­ring, nar­ra­ting, ori­en­ta­ting) will take on a spe­ci­fic stance of nar­ra­ting. It is a dif­fe­rence whe­ther I ask for a tra­di­ti­on or for a rule to be deri­ved from past examp­les, or about a pat­terns of chan­ge across time. The­se ques­ti­ons are infor­med by more gene­ral stan­ces and under­stan­dings of histo­ry (may­be coded in Lévesque’s cen­tral cog­wheel of “his­to­ri­cal con­scious­ness”) and will gene­ra­te dif­fe­rent forms of ori­en­ta­ti­on and nar­ra­ting. This does not mean that the initi­al stance deter­mi­nes the out­co­me of the sto­ry, ren­de­ring his­to­ri­cal thin­king a mat­ter of self-affir­ma­ti­on — not at all. A per­son inqui­ring in tra­di­tio­nal will look for an ori­gin for some­thing valid and might — via his­to­ri­cal thin­king and rese­arch — learn of a qui­te dif­fe­rent ori­gin. The mode of mea­ning-making will still be tra­di­tio­nal, but the con­cre­te histo­ry will have chan­ged. But peop­le might also be for­ced to chan­ge their pat­tern in the pro­cess, e.g. lear­ning of the limits of exem­pla­ry thin­king when gai­ning insight into fun­da­men­tal chan­ge, and thus “pro­gress” in a way from exem­pla­ry to gene­tic sensemaking.
  3. The hig­hest niveau, howe­ver, will be reached not by final­ly arri­ving at the gene­tic forms of thin­king and the respec­ti­ve com­pe­ten­ci­es, but by com­ple­men­ting the abi­li­ty to reco­gni­ze, dis­tin­guish and app­ly the dif­fe­rent for­ma with a trans­gres­sing abi­li­ty to reflect on the natu­re, value and limits of this (and other) typo­lo­gies them­sel­ves. Only on this niveau (at this sta­ge) are peop­le ful­ly at com­mand of their his­to­ri­cal reflec­tion. They can address the limits socie­tal­ly accep­ted con­cepts and ter­mi­no­lo­gy pose and sug­gest new or amen­ded ones, etc. In the graph abo­ve, this is sym­bo­li­zed by the addi­tio­nal focus to the rubrics of Lévesque’s table, mar­ked by the blue rings.
Anmer­kun­gen /​ Refe­ren­ces
  1.   Léves­que, Sté­pha­ne: Remo­ving the “Past”: Deba­tes Over Offi­cial Sites of Memo­ry. In: Public Histo­ry Wee­kly 6 (2018) 29, DOI: dx​.doi​.org/​1​0​.​1​5​1​5​/​p​h​w​-​2​018 – 12570. The­re also is a Ger­man and a French ver­si­on. []
  2. The table can be found under the same address as the ori­gi­nal con­tri­bu­ti­on, down the page []
  3. Rüsen’s “cri­ti­cal” type of nar­ra­ting does not real­ly fit into the typo­lo­gy, pre­sen­ting not a new logic of inter­con­nec­ting tem­po­ral infor­ma­ti­on, but merely de-elgi­ti­mi­zing others. In 1988 alrea­dy, Bodo von Bor­ries com­men­ted on this and pre­sen­ted a gra­phi­cal con­cept of the inter­re­la­ti­on of the dif­fe­rent types, in which a “cri­ti­cal” type was pla­ced bet­ween both the tra­di­tio­nal and the exem­pla­ry and the lat­ter and the gene­tic, thus assigning it the func­tion of a cata­lyst of deve­lo­p­ment (Bor­ries, Bodo von (1988): Geschichts­ler­nen und Geschichts­be­wusst­sein. Empi­ri­sche Erkun­dun­gen zu Erwerb und Gebrauch von His­to­rie. 1. Aufl. Stutt­gart: Klett, p. 61; cf.  Kör­ber, Andre­as (2015): His­to­ri­cal con­scious­ness, his­to­ri­cal com­pe­ten­ci­es – and bey­ond? Some con­cep­tu­al deve­lo­p­ment wit­hin Ger­man histo­ry didac­tics. Online ver­füg­bar unter http://​www​.pedocs​.de/​v​o​l​l​t​e​x​t​e​/​2​0​1​5​/​1​0​8​1​1​/​p​d​f​/​K​o​e​r​b​e​r​_​2​0​1​5​_​D​e​v​e​l​o​p​m​e​n​t​_​G​e​r​m​a​n​_​H​i​s​t​o​r​y​_​D​i​d​a​c​t​i​c​s​.​pdf, p. 14f.). In the new ver­si­on of his “His­to­rik”, Rüsen pres­ents a simi­lar ver­si­on. Cf. Rüsen, Jörn (2013): His­to­rik. Theo­rie der Geschichts­wis­sen­schaft. Köln: Böhlau, p. 260. Eng­lish: Rüsen, Jörn (2017): Evi­dence and Mea­ning. A Theo­ry of His­to­ri­cal Stu­dies. Unter Mit­ar­beit von Dia­ne Kerns und Kat­ie Digan. New York, NY: Berg­hahn Books Incor­po­ra­ted (Making Sen­se of Histo­ry Ser, v.28), p. 198. []
  4.  Schrei­ber, Wal­traud; Kör­ber, Andre­as; Bor­ries, Bodo von; Kram­mer, Rein­hard; Leut­ner-Ram­me, Sibyl­la; Mebus, Syl­via et al. (2007): His­to­ri­sches Den­ken. Ein Kom­pe­tenz-Struk­tur­mo­dell (Basis­bei­trag). In: Andre­as Kör­ber, Wal­traud Schrei­ber und Alex­an­der Schö­ner (Hg.): Kom­pe­ten­zen his­to­ri­schen Den­kens. Ein Struk­tur­mo­dell als Bei­trag zur Kom­pe­tenz­ori­en­tie­rung in der Geschichts­di­dak­tik. Neu­ried: Ars Una Ver­lags-Gesell­schaft (Kom­pe­ten­zen, 2), S. 17 – 53; Kör­ber, Andre­as (2012): Gra­du­ie­rung his­to­ri­scher Kom­pe­ten­zen. In: Miche­le Bar­ri­cel­li und Mar­tin Lücke (Hg.): Hand­buch Pra­xis des Geschichts­un­ter­richts. His­to­ri­sches Ler­nen in der Schu­le, Bd. 1. Schwalbach/​Ts.: Wochen­schau Ver­lag (Wochen­schau Geschich­te), S. 236 – 254.; Kör­ber, Andre­as (2015): His­to­ri­cal con­scious­ness, his­to­ri­cal com­pe­ten­ci­es – and bey­ond? Some con­cep­tu­al deve­lo­p­ment wit­hin Ger­man histo­ry didac­tics. Online ver­füg­bar unter http://​www​.pedocs​.de/​v​o​l​l​t​e​x​t​e​/​2​0​1​5​/​1​0​8​1​1​/​p​d​f​/​K​o​e​r​b​e​r​_​2​0​1​5​_​D​e​v​e​l​o​p​m​e​n​t​_​G​e​r​m​a​n​_​H​i​s​t​o​r​y​_​D​i​d​a​c​t​i​c​s​.​pdf, pp. 39ff []
  5.  Kör­ber, Andre­as (2016): Sinn­bil­dungs­ty­pen als Gra­du­ie­run­gen? Ver­such einer Klä­rung am Bei­spiel der His­to­ri­schen Fra­ge­kom­pe­tenz. In: Kat­ja Leh­mann, Micha­el Wer­ner und Ste­fa­nie Zabold (Hg.): His­to­ri­sches Den­ken jetzt und in Zukunft. Wege zu einem theo­re­tisch fun­dier­ten und evi­denz­ba­sier­ten Umgang mit Geschich­te. Fest­schrift für Wal­traud Schrei­ber zum 60. Geburts­tag. Ber­lin, Müns­ter: Lit Ver­lag (Geschichts­di­dak­tik in Ver­gan­gen­heit und Gegen­wart, 10), S. 27 – 41. []
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