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“I think the window was to illuminate the house

because there was no light at that time": Historical Learning in the voices of children from
kindergarten. In.: SCHMIDT; NECHI. (Org.) Brazilian investigation in History Education.
Curitiba: W.A. Editores LTDA., 2016, p. 193-213.

“I think the window was to illuminate the house because there was no light at that time ":
Historical Learning in the voices of children from kindergarten

This work is inserted in the context of investigations in the field of Education History, and
share its results with the master's thesis entitled "Historical Learning in Early Childhood Education:
possibilities and perspectives of the Historical Education" (OLIVEIRA, 2003). The discussions
about the possibilities of development of historical thinking of young children are based on a
dialogue established between the studies of Hilary Cooper (2002, 2006, 2012) and Jörn Rüsen´s
theory of historical learning from the perspective of the development of historical consciousness.
(2001, 2010a, 2010b, 2010c, 2012).
Cooper found that children have certain "consciousness of the past", which consists of
elements from their own experiences through "traditional stories and rhymes, illustrations, family
photographs, old buildings, movies, television, heritage sites and places of memory "(COOPER,
2012, p.17). According to the author, children are surrounded by physical remains of the past, which
also form part of their present, influencing the consciousness of past times they elaborate (Cooper,
This researcher has developed working methods for teaching and learning history
demonstrating how you can develop, even in embryonic form, lines of historical thinking with
children of early childhood education and early years of elementary school.
Basing on dialogues between the "History of learning" and "constructivist theories of
learning" (COOPER, 2006, p.176), Cooper proposes an "active process of discovery of the past"
that involves "lines of thought that are central to the historical research ": search for evidence and
draw conclusions about historical sources to construct explanations about the past; construct and
evaluate interpretations of the past having as reference the concept of multi perspective; develop
concepts of time in the process involving the use of the language of time, discuss the causes and
effects, sequencing processes and duration.
It is not about anticipating learning, or just a concern for the children's future, but because it

* Teacher in the municipal public network of Curitiba. Master in Education by the Programa de Pós-graduação
em Educação at the Universidade Federal do Paraná. This work was funded by CAPES/REUNI.
is considered what children are. By seeking to understand the relationship they establish and may
establish with the past, it gives them a voice. In this way, it helps us to understand the meanings that
they give to the world, and how the story as science can contribute to the identity formation of these
subjects, the relationship they establish with themselves and with each other. About how the
relationship with the past relates to the development of a sense of identity, she says:

developing an awareness of the past in the context of our own lives through stories about
the more distant past, it is important to understand who we are, how we relate to others and
about the similarities and differences between us. This allows us to understand the way
people behave and allows us to understand their actions, how they can feel and think, why
things happen. This discussion involves core values. It is essential that children learn to
discuss the stories critically, since "Stories are the reservoir of values: change the
individuals of the stories and the life of the nation and say to themselves, and you change
individuals and nations” (OKRI, 1996)” .(COOPER, 2006, p. 184)

In this sense, "finding out about the past" and "learning to discuss stories critically",
demonstrate the relevance of the didactic nature of history as a science, as the need to base the
historical learning in its reference science. The concern with these issues is not limited in
recognizing the importance of "knowing" stories of the past, but that the contact with the knowledge
of the past implies the relationship established with their own past and the way it is in the present. If
it is expected that the history of learning is a form of intervention in the relationship between the
subjects with the world, to guide actions in the context of a process of humanization, to overcome
objective conditions where injustices lie, inequalities and prejudices, it is essential that it is
considered from early childhood, discussing how this knowledge is constructed.
The investigations by Hilary Cooper have as their main reference the perspective of
Education History developed in England, where the researcher plays a key role. Research in the
field of history teaching - currently developed in several countries-, has raised new issues and
pointed to new possibilities for historical learning, converging with the discussions in the
philosophy and teaching of history. These questions relate to "" uses "that students make of history
in terms of their temporal orientation" (SCHMIDT; BARCA; GARCIA, 2010a, p.11), and this is a
key reference for such discussion on the theory of historical consciousness by Jörn Rüsen.
The research carried out in this field seeks to understand the constitution of the historical
ideas of children, youth and teachers having as reference the epistemology of history. The theory of
Rüsen, which is based on discussions about the teaching of history, puts historical learning in a
wider project in which it proposes the development of historical consciousness. According to Rüsen
(2001) historical consciousness is the sum of mental operations with which humans orient
themselves in the flow of time. It is a process of assigning meaning to human experience in time -
that is a process of experience, interpretation and guidance to this author
The historical consciousness of the activity can be considered as historical learning when
producing the expansion of the experience of the human past, increasing the power to the
historical interpretation of the experience and the capacity to insert and use historical
interpretations in the political framework of the practical life. (RÜSEN, 2010b, p. 110)

The development of these processes of historical thinking - or historical consciousness -

from the principles and determining forms of history as science, gives the direction of historical
knowledge a formative value, in other words, "a way of welcoming this knowledge, to deal with it,
taking position towards it, using it"(Rüsen, 2010b, p. 101). For Rüsen the claim of historical
rationality is effective in the practice as historical formation, as development of narrative
competence (experience, interpretation and direction) of historical consciousness. These are
correlated, and can be understood as the three learning dimensions of historical formation (Rüsen,
2010b, p 103; Rüsen, 2010a, p. 114).
In this perspective, the operation referred to the experience or perception must involve the
pursuit of empirical content of historical knowledge, and the experience of antiquity of the past
becoming aware, opening the future of this potential. The historical character of something is not
just about what has occurred in the past, but in a certain temporal quality that distinguishes the past
qualitatively from the present; it is passed for the present time and so somehow remains past. It is
the development of the historical look, focused on the alterity of past, that is able to raise the
awareness for the specificity of its present time (Rüsen, 2010b, p 111, 112, 113,. 2010a, p.85, 86).

The past is only learned when experienced historically and when the past is distinguished
from the present. At the same time, historical experience makes the present pass through the
past, and this becomes the “historical” present. This present time has its own temporal
quality that can be emphasized by those who belong to the true present (for example, when
children discover that the time that represented their grandfathers, when they tell of their
own childhood, was another). (RÜSEN, 2012, p. 87)

The interpretative dimension in the historical formation learning process, increases the
competence to find meaning to transform the increase of experience in a productive change in the
interpretation model. "Such models or patterns of interpretation integrate different types of
knowledge and experience of the human past into a comprehensive whole - in other words, a 'image
of the story'. They give to the facts historical 'meaning'” (Rüsen, 2010a, p.86). In this process, the
interpretation models are used in the processing of experience and the organization of knowledge,
they are placed in motion, become flexible, consciously reflected and usable argumentatively;
putting knowledge in a historical perspective, in which this can be demonstrated and even modified
argumentatively (RÜSEN, 2010b, p.114, 115).
The power of guidance through historical learning, can be described as the ability to
perceive the historicity of the self and the world, recognizing the possible formations existent in
themselves and in their actions. The specific historical elements present in human interpretation that
the individuals have of themselves and their world, the specific historical elements present in
human interpretation that the individuals have of themselves and his world, concern the internal
(identity) and external (praxis) diachronic sides to guide the very existence that must be learned
(Rüsen, 2010a, p. 88, 2010b p. 116,117).

From the outside it is understood the comprehensive meaning of the past, present and future
given the temporal changes in circumstances and relationships of human life: this side
belong to the essential components of intentional action - that is, the future prospects
supported by experience. As the inside we understand the temporal self-conceptualization
of the individuals in which they understand and express themselves about the temporal
changes in their lives. By this concept they remain the same, despite the change in their
world. The "historical identity" is the common term for the diachronic consistency of
individuals in the course of time. This identity is specifically historical when its time
dimensions extend beyond the borders of their own lives and the finitude of individuals is
overcome by memory. (RÜSEN, 2010a, p.88)

Rüsen’s theory argues that historical rationality, the contribution of history as a science, is
the possibility to guide the individuals in time. In this way the historical consciousness in which
humans articulate this significant temporal link between past, present and future in order to guide
their actions and understand the flow of time, can develop as a historical formation from the
processes of historical learning that give history rationality. In this manner, the formation role of
historical learning is perceived as a historical formation process that has the humanization process
in perspective. According to Rüsen, the rational qualities of the contents remembered by the
historical consciousness
consist of all processes of the past that might be qualified as humanization: the elimination
of the need, suffering, pain, oppression and exploitation; the release of individuals toward
autonomy; the development of rational standards of argument; the release of the relations
among human beings and the world, in the game of deprivation of the senses, and more.
The historical memories that preserve these processes or reveal their faults and failures in
the past are rational. (RÜSEN, 2010b, p. 124)

The author emphasizes that historical formation is not a fixed component of orientation,
which "takes" and that one can "own", but which is related to continuous reworking of current
experiences that practical life demands in time. He further states that "learning is the elaboration of
experience in the interpreting and active competence, and the historical formation is nothing more
than a specially developed learning capacity" (RÜSEN, 2010b, p. 104).
This theoretical line of Rüsen has been fertilized by empirical studies that point to the
development of possibilities of creating a methodology of historical learning from the perspective
of the development of historical consciousness. Regarding the education of young children, it is
possible to advance in this matter by studying Rüsen´s theory and the research conducted by Hilary
Cooper. These elements extend the importance and the need for investigations concerned with
children´s knowledge about the past, their knowledge about the relationships that they established
with the past, giving them direction, opening up possibilities so that this knowledge can be
mediated by a process of historical learning that contributes to the initial historical formation of

Methodological Assumptions
As part of the Master Degree research, an investigation was carried out, debating the
historical thinking of children between 4 and 6 years, 9 girls and 21 boys in a Early Childhood
Education center that has an agreement with the local schools in the city of Curitiba. This activity
was conducted in collaboration with the teachers Emilia and Mafalda. Since this is a work that is in
the scope of the research conducted by LAPEDUH-UFPR, it is able to join the fields of didactics
and history, as a science of historical learning, and their interrelations with the educational field, in
order to develop methods and research techniques based on investigative principles of the
qualitative research.
Tania Braga researcher Garcia, in her text "Relations between teaching and historical
learning: challenges for research in History Education" (2009) stresses privileged elements in the
context of investigations conducted by the Laboratório de Pesquisa em Educação Histórica
(LAPEDUH-UFPR). Among those elements is the understanding of "social construction of school,"
this means that research on the school should recognize that alongside a documented existence,
there is another "existence not documented by which the school takes material form, gains life
"(EZPELETA and ROCKWELL, 1989, p. 13 apud GARCIA, 2009, p.105). Another point is the
approach of the formal areas of education by means of empirical studies, which seek the production
of strategies and field work tools "that allow the researcher to know the meanings that the
individuals in the school universe - particularly teachers and students - attribute to the actions
related to teaching and learning "(2009, p. 105).
With this, research in the empirical field, which was focused on identifying the elements of
historical thinking of children, initially focused its participant observation methodology; however,
the opportunity to integrate principles of collaborative research emerged, which extended the
opportunity to seek the meanings about the relations in teaching and learning history, with the
approach of teaching knowledge and the issues that involved academic research. In the next topic
this will be reflected on the elements of historical thinking of the children who participated in the
survey, in the context of activities undertaken in collaboration with the teachers, consisting of a
conversation circle on a visit at the Alfredo Andersen Museum (Curitiba- PR).

Experience and interpretation of the past from a historical patrimony

Hilary Cooper (2006) points to the relevance of the investigation of the past by children
using historical sources, the process of learning to inquire and think about the meanings that
historical facts had to the people who produced and used them. For Jörn Rüsen, the relationship
with the facts and evidences from historical sources can enable the possibility of signifying the
present through the past, through temporal change of mind, "look at the past because it is in the
present that you live temporal changing experience" (RÜSEN, 2013, p. 07).
According to the collaborating teachers, children's relationships with the past were not
something seen or explored in the course of educational practices. The activities called
"appreciation circles" with reproduction of works of art, were turning mainly to identify aspects
related to artistic visual language and the development of oral language, and there was no intention
of thinking the works of art as an expression that revealed meanings of human experience of the
past. As part of activities related to artistic visual language, a museum visit was held. Teacher
Emilia was taking a course in this area and, because of this, visited many museums and art galleries,
which provided an opportunity to take children to get to know at least on of those locations. With
this visit they were able to get in touch with a "real story about the past," accompanied by other
features. The children´s relationship with this experience could be examined during a conversation
circle on the visit.
When arriving at the museum, the children watched a puppet show about the history of the
artist's life. At the end, they were told that the house where they would visit the works had also been
the place where Alfredo Andersen lived. Then, they were divided into two groups, each one guided
by a museum docent. The researcher accompanied the group that was with teacher Mafalda. The
children seemed disappointed for not finding "Alfredo´s house" properly, but rather white walls and
paintings by other artists. Erick, when spot a varnished wooden stool, asked me if it was Andersen´s
table, the other children who were nearby said that the object was a stool. I suggested that they
might ask the museum docent:

MUSEUM DOCENT: No, it was not. It was placed here because that painting was done
live. The artist came, painted and everyone who was here saw. But the object did not belong
to Alfredo. Except that is stored, the thing is that depends, when they are organizing the art
exhibition here people say "now we will put things Alfredo Andersen, now we will put only
Erick: But when Alfredo Andersen was a kid he lived here?
MUSEUM DOCENT: Yes, this is his home. This one here, he lived here. Here was his
studio, here he received his students and taught art. And downstairs where was he really
lived. When he was alive he really lived there. Then we will know his house, downstairs, the
upstairs we already knew, and we will know the downstairs. Then I tell you where it was the
living room, where it was the kitchen, where it was his bedroom. OK? Today everything was
turned in museum, but back then.
Maria: Where was the girl's room?
MUSEUM DOCENT: Hi? That's right. Where it was the girls´ bedroom, his daughters.
Jorge: Did he have a son?
MUSEUM DOCENT: He had four children. Two boys and two girls. (...)
(Recording transcript -21/09/2012)1

In the masters dissertation (OLIVEIRA, 2003), the children’s speeches were presented with spelling mistakes and
Alfredo Andersen was 55 years old when he moved to the house that later became the
museum. The fact that children ask about when he was a little boy, or about "the children" - their
children, can indicate their interest by other subjects, even from other times, they approach or match
their own experiences, in the case, being a child.
The ground floor space had been modified to accommodate the exhibits and, this way, also
did not look like "home". However, the museum docent instigated children's imagination by telling
them how each and every space was, and the stories of the paintings made by the artist. There was
also a showcase with his personal objects.
During the discussion circle on the visit, a question raised by a mentor generated more
questions, assumptions and historical imagination to fill the gaps raised by children; it was the
"restoration window". In the fragment below there is the explanation given by the museum docent;
without the children asking questions before or after:
MUSEUM DOCENT: Now, what I want to show you, this room is here, look. Previously
here was the bedroom of his children. And then, the wall was not white. It was all decorated
with this painting. Then when the place became a museum, we painted all white. Why?
Because if you put a picture on a white wall then it will be highlighted. Imagine now, you
can imagine that all painted wall and then I go and hang a picture? It is not going to
appear. No one knows exactly where to look: at the wall painting or the work of art. It's just
that, when they were organizing the museum, this here is called "Restoration window",
which is a testimony of how the painting was before, right? So formerly it was all painted,
the entire wall. But today it is all white because it became a museum. OK?
(Recording transcript --21/09/2012)

During the following visitation day (Monday), a talking circle was carried out with the class
about the museum visit, coordinated by teacher Mafalda. The teacher began by asking the children
what they had seen in the museum; Rosa said they saw "many beautiful sculptures, a lot of
sculptures made by Alfredo Andersen´s students," other children mentioned the theatrical play.
Then, teacher Mafalda asked about the subject of the play
Jorge: He wanted to be a painter!
Teacher Mafalda: Look Ernesto wants to talk. Go ahead, Ernesto.
Ernesto: Is that his father would not let him, he wanted him to be a sailor, but he did not, he
wanted to be a painter
Teacher Mafalda: Oh, it was his dream, right?
Calvin: they were traveling
Teacher Mafalda: Oh they were traveling. Go ahead, Ana (...)
Ana: The sculpture was part of the wall that they discovered that was a window, but it had
no window, had no glass.
Ernesto: yeah, it had only marks!
(Recording transcript -21/09/2012)

Ana was referring to the restoration window. In the group that I followed, the children heard
the guide's explanation without asking questions about it. However, it seems that many children
questioned the fact that the window was very "different." I asked them if they remembered what it

general language misuse. However, it would be impossible to do a literal translation of such mistakes, therefore we
chose to maintain a formal language.
was and many of them tried to answer and make comments at the same time:
Andressa (Researcher): Guys, do you remember what that was?
(Children speak at the same time)
Erick: we saw it in the house of Alfredo Andersen
Andressa (Researcher): Do you remember what that window was? Why did the museum
docent call that a window?
Rosa: it was a crystal window
Andressa (Researcher): It was really a window? Just like this one? Through which we can
see the street?
Children: Noo !!!
Ernesto: It was like a ... like a ... door! And I had a lot of marks and also a lot of paper
and also had ... and it was square and also had some rectangles.
Rosa (I heard this information only in the transcript): It was there to breathe
Andressa (Researcher): Do you remember which was the color the entire wall of the house?
Children: "whiteee"
Andressa (Researcher): And that was always white?
Children: "No", "Yes" (the same time)
Miguel: Because they painted it white, and then ... and then green and red (...).
Erick: There was a house ...
Jorge: Because their house was already old
(Recording transcript -24/09/2012)

The children were building their explanations according to what they saw, heard and
interpreted based on the fact that in that place a restoration window existed. The conversation
continued, with children relying on pictures, objects, reflecting on how they went to the location.
Cristina said that she had already painted her hand with paint that was in her grandfather´s house,
other students talked about the theatrical play, and about ten minutes later, amid other subjects,
Rosa, who had not so far participated in the conversation, came back to the window question,
raising another hypothesis to the question:

Teacher Mafalda: Go ahead Rosa! Rosa is raising her hand.

Rosa: I think the window was to illuminate the house because light did not exist at that
Andressa (Researcher): Can you repeat, Rosa?
Teacher Mafalda: Look class, Rosa is talking!
Rosa: That window was to breathe and to let the sun get inside, because there was no
light at that time, so that big window was to breathe and for the sun to get inside the
houses. (Recording transcript -24/09/2012)

Rosa seemed to have not understood of which window we were talking about, and continued
thinking about the window that got her attention. During the conversation circle, nobody mentioned
the idea that "at that time" there was no electricity, and we were very surprised by her comment.
From the question raised by Ana and discussed with the other children, Rosa "created a new
problem" and also a "historical explanation" to her question. In this process, the student used, from
the evidence available (perhaps the window size, the fact that the house was old), the historical
knowledge she possessed (electricity not always existed), and her historical imagination to fill the
gaps that constituted the problem that she noticed.
According to Rüsen "historical learning, inserted in the dimension of experience, becomes a
formation process, whenever it has constituted certain experiential competence" (2010b, p. 112).
With this statement, he points to the process in which the historical experiences are conscious, in
which the movement of pursuing historical knowledge is born in the individual itself, "from his
empirical curiosity." Is possible to notice that the explanation built by Rosa, indicates a
development process of the historical cognition, in which the dimension of historical experience
goes from passive to active side:

Something imposed from outside to consciousness, but when registering, it also processes
using their own interpretative resources, making it visible and knowable. The process of
transforming experience, in which learning becomes training, is a transfer of the emphasis
that was on the passive side to the active side. The individual transcends its own limits and
the historical knowledge that is given to him and begins to pursue new historical
experiences. In this movement, the person brings together new dimensions of historical
experience, corresponding to their own interests, aspirations and hopes. (RÜSEN, 2012b, p.
112. Translation by the author.)

Continuing the conversation, I asked the children how they thought life was like when there
was no electric light. Several children wanted to answer, comment, or talk. Rosa said "I think it was
too dark to walk around the house at night, so they used candles," once again the student revealed
that she thought the past from its temporal capacity by launching a hypothesis about how people
acted in a different context from that lived by her. Then I asked what the children used to do at night
in their homes:
Rosa: We turn the lights on, because now there is light.
Carlos: We sleep, eat dinner
Miguel: brush our teeth
Kid: We sleep, brush our teeth, eat dinner.
Andressa (Researcher): And you play, what else do you do?
Rosa: we wait until our tummy to digest
(Recording transcript --24/09/2012)

Therefore, I asked them what they thought Alfredo Andersen used to do at night:

Jorge: he slept.
Andressa (Researcher): Did he just sleep? What did they do for fun?
Jorge: They played.
(Kids: I want to talk, I want to talk !!)
Andressa (Researcher): They played. And what could it be?
Ana: He was painting the pictures of them while they played at night.
Andressa (Researcher): Did he used candlelight because they had no electricity?
Ana: that´s right.
(Recording transcript -24/09/2012)

Ana had already commented on the story told by the museum docent, about the painting in
which Andersen portrayed his daughters, and then passed to integrate this fact in order to imagine
how were the nights at that time when there was no electricity. This idea was reinforced for me and
questioned by Ernesto, which referenced his opinion on another evidence: the house had in fact
lamps, so it also had electricity.
Ana: He kept painting the picture of them while they played at night.
Andressa (Researcher): Using candlelight? Because they had no electricity?
Ana: that´s right
Ernesto: yes, they had
Rosa: no, they had not!
Teacher Mafalda: At that time they had not.
Ana: no, they had not.
Andressa (Researcher): Did they had?
Ernesto: So why those lights?
Teacher Mafalda: What lights?
Ernesto: That there!
Teacher Mafalda: No, but those lights they put later, right?
Andressa (Researcher): The lamps?
Ernesto: yeah
Rosa: Yeah, lamps that they put later, just to illuminate the hotel.
(Recording transcript -24/09/2012)

Ernesto thought about the assumption of the colleague, who had already been encouraged by
the researcher and the teacher and it was shared by all as a "plausible" and even "true" interpretation
about why the windows were large and consequently as a fact that was making us imagine how
Alfredo Andersen and his family’s life could have been. Even with all the "pressure" which could
represent stand up against "the majority," the five years old boy deconstructed the previous version,
demonstrating from evidence that what we thought could be a mistake, which probably was.
Born in 1860, Alfredo may have lived large part of his life without knowing electricity;
however, he moved from Paranagua to Curitiba in the early years of the twentieth century when
Curitiba started the process of utilization of electricity. In 1915, he moved to the house where now
works the museum. Being the residence in the area of the historical center of Curitiba, and
Andersen, a renowned and successful artist, it is likely that even if the electricity was not something
popular, he already had.
In this way, Ernesto presented a historical interpretation model, which broke with the
dogmatism that the "history" of the researcher, the colleague or the teacher was the only possible
and true to put the historical knowledge in perspective. Demonstrating, even in embryonic form, a
form of argument, that was built not only by denying, through an example from the past, or
tradition, but by the identification of an evidence.
The relationship of interest in the "history" of the artist, from an emotional relationship with
the individuals involved in it, can be noticed in several comments. It is possible to note that the
combination of narrative and aesthetic appeal of the work may have involved children in order to
become interested, think and share feelings with a "true" story about individuals of the past, built on
it their own interpretations. As in the case of Anna, who seems to sympathize with the story of a
painting that, according to the museum docent, was a bit 'blurred' 'because Andersen had not
finished it. During the conversation circle, the children also talked about contemporary art, its
colors and figures of animals, but their comments were mainly on Alfredo Andersen´s history. This
happened based on the narrative told through the theatrical play, the stories about his paintings,
objects the display case and the "house" where he had lived and which eventually became the
museum. From this evidence, the children recounted, although in a fragmented way, their
interpretations of the artist's life. He had drawn the attention of one of his daughters to straighten
her posture while playing; she did not obey, so he decided to paint it for her to see how ugly it was.
This fact made her very sad and he stop painting, leaving the picture incomplete. About this, the
children commented:

Ana: Did you know that there are some paintings and he painted his daughter all bent?
Teacher Mafalda: All bent, he painted his daughter all bent.
Ana: and she blurred all
Teacher Mafalda: Did he blurred it all?
Thierry: is that she cried.
Teacher Mafalda: Did she cry Thierry? So, what her father did?
Children: (talking at the same time)
Teacher Mafalda: He stopped painting, right? Because she started crying. So, it ended like
that. (the teacher answered according to what the children said about it)
Djulia: He was sorry for her.
(Recording transcript -24/09/2012)

The relationship of the children with the experience of the past, based on historical sources,
seems to have impelled them to share feelings with people of other times, something that can be
understood as "putting oneself in someone´s shoes" in order to be close to their own experiences.
Interpretations about the life of Alfredo were also constructed from personal objects
exhibited in the showcase. Erick said that "there are many things that they used," Rosa said,
"Alfredo Andersen died of too much smoking", because the museum docent had told them that
some objects were related to this habit of the artist, however, without mentioning the reason of his
The visit to the museum was initially focused on learning related to artistic-visual language.
It is possible to point out that the way teacher Mafalda dealt the conversation circle - making room
for the children to talk about what they found interesting and, along with the researcher, surprise
themselves with the answers, seeking to explore it beyond the knowledge of visual-artistic language
- made possible for children to narrate, raise hypotheses, imagine historically, disagreeing with each
other and presenting their own versions, mobilizing processes related to historical cognition.

Through educational practices established in collaboration it was possible to approach
intentionally the past, in order to identify the historical ideas of the children. This article was
focused on one of these activities, the discussion circle about the visit at the Alfredo Andersen
museum. In this manner it was possible to create opportunities for children to get in touch with the
experience of the past through historical sources, such as: narrative through the puppet theater on
the history of Alfredo Andersen, house where the artist lived, his personal belongings, pictures - and
narratives about all this.
It is possible to note that children between four and six years old, who participated in the
survey, demonstrate ideas about human experience in time, recognizing that the passage of time
focuses on changes. It was also possible to observe that they differ what they believe that "really
happened" from what is "fantasy", showing interest in "true" stories about the past, especially when
they involve "other children". They were able to think of the past looking for aspects that
characterize their temporal alterity, historically wondering how the situation in the past might have
Compared to other activities, it can be verified that there was a qualitative difference in the
way children approached the facts of the past, with or without the possibility for pursuing evidence
in the historical sources. Working with the sources seems to arouse in children "the fascination with
the past", which according to Rüsen "belongs to the most important impulses to learn history"
(Rüsen, 2010b, p. 112). They are able to overcome "the momentum generated by the fascination,"
by seeking to interpret that past, searching for evidence, asking questions, and constructing
Children have demonstrated that they search in the evidence elements to evaluate the
plausibility of assumptions about the past and to build their own interpretations; revealing an active,
not passive position in front of the historical explanation previously given, supporting it in other
evidences. In the opportunities that they had to talk about the past, especially when working with
historical sources, children use the language of the time, flexibilizing past tense verbs, and using
words that indicate the passage of time, such as: old, ancient, older, a long time ago, before, even,
first, month and year (using those words to refer to the passage of time, although not satisfying the
formal meaning), making references to age. Therefore it is clear that the children build a sense of
time, through the opportunities to "discover" about it from the sources and use and develop the
language of the time.
The issues raised by this research point out that children between four and six years old have
the ability to think historically. To be able to contribute to the development of historical thinking by
historical learning, it is important to tread a path contrary to the educational scenario in Brazil
today. It is necessary to keep the issue of adequate teacher training always under discussion, and
educational proposals that go beyond the rhetoric, basing the learning processes taking in
consideration the specific nature of knowledge. In this manner children are not only perceived as
historical subjects, but understand themselves this way, revealing ways of perceiving the world with
the possibility to act and change it.

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