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Teaching sensitive topics: Training history teachers in collaboration with the museum


Albert Logtenberg, Geerte Savenije, Pieter de Bruijn, Timo Epping, & Guido Goijens


Discussing sensitive topics, such as slavery, political extremism or religion, in the history classroom presents an interesting challenge for history teachers and museum educators. The goal of this small-scale case study was to evaluate a domain-specific professional-development course for Dutch history teachers that was developed in cooperation with museum educators. This course trains teachers to explore the dynamics of and multiple perspectives on a heritage object by asking historical questions, starting from an overarching main question. We investigated: 1) to what extent trainee and experienced history teachers felt competent in teaching sensitive topics before and after the training; and 2) how three experienced history teachers discussed multiple perspectives in a follow-up lesson after the training. Results showed that teachers reported higher self-efficacy in teaching sensitive topics and that the course offered them practical ideas about how to discuss these kinds of topics in their classrooms. Lesson observations showed that the teachers applied some parts of the design principles demonstrated in the course. This article discusses how using tangible heritage objects could support history educators in negotiating sensitive issues.


Sensitive topics, History education, Teacher professional development, Museum education

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How to Cite

Logtenberg, A., Savenije, G., de Bruijn, P., Epping, T., & Goijens, G. (2024). Teaching sensitive topics: Training history teachers in collaboration with the museum. Historical Encounters, 11(1), 43-59.


  • Issue Published 10 January 2024

  • Double Blind Peer Reviewed

  • Author Retains Copyright

  • Distributed under a CC BY-NC-ND 4.0​ License

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