Geography and history education in Estonia: processes, policies and practices in an ethnically divided society from the late 1980s to the early 2000s
This article studies processes, policies and practices for geography and history education in Estonia. The analysis covers the societal transformation period in an ethnically divided society from the 1980s to the early 2000s characterized by Estonia’s disintegration from the Soviet Union towards the integration to the European Union and NATO. Geography and history education curricula, textbooks and related policies and practices promoted a particular national time-space by supporting the belongingness of Estonia into Europe, rejecting connections towards Russia and suggesting a division between ethnic Estonians and ethnically non-Estonian residents of Estonia. In geography and history textbooks, the Russian-speaking population, comprising then almost a third of the entire population of Estonia, was divided into non-loyal, semi-loyal and loyal groups of whom only the latter could be integrated in the Estonian time-space. The formal education policies for geography and history supported Estonia’s disintegration from the Soviet past and pawed way to integration to the western political and economic structures. However, challenging market and sensitive cultural contexts created peculiar, alternative and sometimes opposing local practices in geography and history education.