Historical and narrative empathy: thinking about the Columbus expedition with future teachers of Basic Education

Mendive. Journal on Education, april-june 2022; 20(2): 450-463

Translated from the original in Spanish

Original article

Historical and narrative empathy: thinking about the Columbus expedition with future teachers of Basic Education


Empatía histórica y narrativa: pensar la expedición de Colón con futuros profesores de Educación Básica


Empatia histórica e narrativa: pensando a expedição Colombo com futuros professores da Educação Básica


Humberto Álvarez Sepúlveda1 https://orcid.org/0000-0001-5729-3404

1Catholic University of Santísima Concepción, Chile. haalvarez@historia.ucsc.cl


Received: January 02nd, 2022.
Accepted: February 18th, 2022.



Historical empathy is one of the metacognitive pillars of the didactics of history most transcendental in the training of basic education teachers, since it allows them to understand the past in a contextualized way and teach the subject of history to their future students in a rigorous, systematic and critical way. However, despite its great importance, in specialized literature there is little research on the development of historical empathy in teacher training. For this reason, in this article, the stories constructed by 36 future teachers of Basic Education from a university in southern Chile are analyzed, in order to evaluate the levels of development of historical empathy that they applied in their narratives based on one of the four main historiographical positions on the arrival of Christopher Columbus in America (Eurocentric, anti-colonial, conciliatory and chronological). The content analysis was used to identify the levels of achievement of historical empathy from the following typology: presentist historical empathy, experiential historical empathy and simple historical empathy. It is concluded that 8.3 % of the stories are based on presentist historical empathy, 50% on experiential historical empathy and 41.7% on simple historical empathy. These results are positive compared to other similar studies on historical empathy because most of them show that future teachers tend to express their historical interpretation from the presentist perspective.

Keywords: problem-based learning;story;historical empathy; Christopher Columbus expedition; historical narrative.


La empatía histórica es uno de los pilares metacognitivos de la didáctica de la historia más trascendentales en la formación de profesores de enseñanza básica, ya que les permite comprender el pasado de forma contextualizada y enseñar la asignatura de Historia a sus futuros estudiantes de forma rigurosa, sistemática y crítica. No obstante, a pesar de su gran importancia, en la literatura especializada existen escasas investigaciones sobre el desarrollo de la empatía histórica en el profesorado en formación. Por este motivo, en este artículo se analizan los cuentos construidos por 36 futuros docentes de Educación Básica de una universidad del sur de Chile, con el fin de evaluar los niveles de desarrollo de empatía histórica que aplicaron en sus narrativas, basadas en una de las cuatro principales posturas historiográficas sobre la llegada de Cristóbal Colón a América (eurocéntrica, anticolonialista, conciliatoria y cronológica). Se utilizó el análisis de contenido para identificar los niveles de logro de empatía histórica a partir de la siguiente tipología: empatía histórica presentista, empatía histórica experiencial y empatía histórica simple. Se concluye que el 8.3 % de los relatos se fundan en la empatía histórica presentista, el 50 % en la empatía histórica experiencial y el 41.7 % en la empatía histórica simple. Estos resultados son positivos en comparación a otros estudios similares sobre la empatía histórica, porque la mayoría de ellos evidencian que los futuros profesores suelen manifestar su interpretación histórica desde la perspectiva presentista.

Palabras clave: aprendizaje basado en problemas; cuento; empatía histórica; expedición de Cristóbal Colón; narrativa histórica.


A empatia histórica é um dos pilares metacognitivos mais transcendentais do ensino de história na formação de professores da educação básica, pois permite que eles compreendam o passado de forma contextualizada e ensinem a disciplina de História aos seus futuros alunos de forma rigorosa, sistemática e crítico. No entanto, apesar de sua grande importância, na literatura especializada há poucas pesquisas sobre o desenvolvimento da empatia histórica em professores em formação. Por isso, este artigo analisa as histórias construídas por 36 futuros professores da Educação Básica de uma universidade no sul do Chile, a fim de avaliar os níveis de desenvolvimento da empatia histórica que aplicaram em suas narrativas, com base em uma das quatro principais posições sobre a chegada de Cristóvão Colombo na América (eurocêntrica, anticolonial, conciliadora e cronológica). A análise de conteúdo foi utilizada para identificar os níveis de realização da empatia histórica com base na seguinte tipologia: empatia histórica presentista, empatia histórica experiencial e empatia histórica simples. Conclui-se que 8,3% das histórias são baseadas na empatia histórica presentista, 50% na empatia histórica experiencial e 41,7% na empatia histórica simples. Esses resultados são positivos em comparação com outros estudos semelhantes sobre empatia histórica, pois a maioria deles mostra que os futuros professores costumam expressar sua interpretação histórica a partir da perspectiva presentista.

Palavras-chave: aprendizagem baseada em problemas; conto; empatia histórica; expedição de Cristóvão Colombo; narrativa histórica.



In the last decade, the training of history teachers has gradually focused on the constructivist paradigm, where the teacher trainer has the task of promoting meaningful learning, which allows future teachers of the discipline to develop their historical empathy and not simply the ability to memorize or accumulate information on declarative knowledge.

For Yilmaz (2007), historical empathy is the ability to understand the frames of reference of historical figures, based on the past events that surrounded them. Endacott and Brooks (2013) add that this concept entails a cognitive and affective process, since, firstly, it supposes a reasoning about the way in which the sources are related to each other and, secondly, because it tries to imagine what could be meaning of a certain character in a given historical context. In this way, and coinciding with Carril, Sánchez and Muñoz (2020), historical empathy consists of putting into operation a controlled historical imagination, which enables the contextualized reconstruction of past times.

Various investigations, such as those by Sáiz and López (2015), Guillén (2016) and Carril, Sanchez and Muñoz (2020), have shown that primary and secondary school students have an unbalanced historical background, since they present a low level in cognitive markers associated with historical empathy, which reduces their ability to analyze when understanding the facts in a contextualized way. This is due, in large part, to the persistence of the traditional teaching of history, whose paradigm hinders the critical analysis of the past and the assessment of subaltern groups (peasants, children, women, sexual minorities, among others) as historical subjects with the capacity for resistance and transformation.

Sáiz and López (2015) point out that this situation is a product of the instruction received, since teachers of the subject do not usually have sufficient disciplinary and epistemological knowledge to help their students understand the foundations of historical empathy. The root of this problem is found in the training of history teachers, because this process has prioritized the treatment of disciplinary content over the didactic knowledge of the specialty. In this regard, Valdés and Turra (2017) argue that the predominance of this trait limits the ability of future teachers to develop metacognitive skills in exercises of historical empathy and strengthens their disciplinary knowledge aimed at training their students to answer standardized tests.

For this reason, and given the importance of training 21st century students as critical, active citizens committed to the common good and sustainable development, it is essential that the training of history teachers not only focus on disciplinary knowledge, but also consider the work based on historical empathy, so that future teachers of the specialty can develop this ability.

In order to advance in this line, it is convenient to verify the development of historical empathy by teachers in training and, based on these results, make pedagogical decisions that allow providing a better academic preparation in historiography, history and historical education. For this, it is key to resort to the use of narratives to evaluate historical empathy, since they help to investigate the cognitive capacities of future teachers to organize and understand the past, because it constitutes a cultural tool that empowers the narrator to write about the processes and social actors of interest. Thus, narrative offers a linguistic resource for preservice teachers to cognitively communicate or represent their historical perspective on society and its political, economic, and cultural dimensions. In this way, historical learning serves, on the one hand, to recognize the identity roots shared by a group and, on the other, to organize knowledge of the past of human societies (Sáiz and López, 2015; Navarro and Corredor, 2018).

Within the world of narratives, the historical story stands out, because it allows the narrator (in this case the future teacher) to create and teach a historical theme to a specific target audience, through a story that combines fictional and real components to reconstruct the past through of an exercise of historical empathy that seeks to incorporate contextual references of reality. Although there are no common parameters in these stories, most of them present a personal assessment of a specific time. Sometimes he tries to question some myth from other times, make a parallelism with the present or, simply, recall the idea that it is necessary to know the past to know who we are and where we come from.

To take advantage of the potential of this type of narrative, this research aims to analyze the historical stories constructed by 36 future teachers of Basic Education from a university in southern Chile, in order to identify the cognitive markers of historical empathy that they used in their stories. , based on one of the four main historiographical positions on the arrival of Christopher Columbus in America (Eurocentric, anti-colonial, conciliatory and chronological). It should be noted that this topic has been selected because it constitutes a relevant training axis to rethink the history of the American continent from a critical and innovative perspective and, in addition, it is because it constitutes the main disciplinary topic worked on in the university course considered as a sample.

The relevance and scientific novelty of the article lie in the urgency of working on the proposed theme due to its growing academic and social interest, given that most of the studies focus on analyzing the historical empathy of primary and secondary school students through narratives (Guillén, 2016; Calderón and Arias, 2017; Carril, Sanchez and Muñozs, 2020 ), and not in the evaluation of this concept in future teachers of the discipline (Sáiz and López, 2015;San Pedro and Lopez, 2017).

Faced with this situation, there is an urgent need to analyze the levels of development of historical empathy presented by teachers in training, in order to assess whether they have sufficient pedagogical and disciplinary knowledge to develop this ability in their future students. This work is carried out under the conviction that the results obtained can allow us to diagnose the weaknesses of the training process of future teachers of the subject and make decisions for improvement that contribute to enhancing their knowledge, skills and attitudes in the teaching and learning of history.



This research is qualitative and has an exploratory and interpretive nature. Its design is non-experimental transectional, since the data were collected in the month of September 2021.

The population of this study is made up of all the students of Pedagogy in Basic Education of a university in the south of Chile and the sample is made up of 36 future teachers of a history course and their didactics of said career. The sampling technique used is of a non-probabilistic nature for convenience and is not stratified, since the study required teachers in training who are in the second year of their studies (this criterion is considered because it seeks to know the level of achievement of historical empathy of students who take their first subject related to history and its didactics) and who works on content on the planned historical theme.

The information was collected through an individual written work in which the participants were asked to elaborate a historical story based on one of the main four positions of the arrival of Christopher Columbus in America (table 1) and that it be addressed to a foreign student of basic education that is completely unaware of this subject.

Table 1- Historiographical positions on the arrival of Christopher Columbus in America




Guanahaní Island (current Bahamas) on October 12, 1492 is a founding milestone in the history of the continent. Eurocentrism derives from the "discovery" of America, which annuls or mitigates the possibility of recognizing the conquered as historical subjects. From this point of view, the barbarian nations and the original ethnic groups, unlike the European peoples who function as historical bearers of universal reason, lack sovereignty because they have not yet managed to be a modern State.


It argues that the term "discovery" should be reserved for the first human being to make it. The chronological position also admits successive denominations such as "first discovery", "second discovery", "third discovery" and "fourth discovery" of America, which serve to refer to the arrival of the Monteverdinos and the subsequent arrival of the Eskimos, Vikings and Spanish.


It criticizes the exacerbated predominance of the Eurocentric perspective that is based on the "discovery" of America by Columbus, since he argues that this character simply arrived on a continent that was already inhabited thousands of years ago by various cultures such as the Inca, Mayan, Aztec and Mapuche. This paradigm also seeks to relieve the suffering suffered by the native peoples in the demographic catastrophe and in the phenomenon of transculturation, both processes that occurred after European colonization.


It proposes to reconcile the anti-colonial position with the Eurocentric one, arguing that before emphasizing the greater or lesser violence that could have characterized the conquest of America, what should be highlighted is the "meeting of two cultures" that occurred after the arrival of Columbus to the continent. Under this precept, the conciliatory perspective emphasizes the exchange of goods and products that were part of the cultural syncretism that arose between Europeans and indigenous people.

Source: own elaboration (2021), based on the work of Álvarez (2020)

For the construction of the narratives, one of the interpretations indicated in Table 1 was assigned to each participant via lottery, to prevent them from selecting a position that was familiar to them and thus favor the concerted exercise of historical empathy. Subsequently, a historical laboratory was developed that offered teachers in training the possibility of simulating the work carried out by the historian to prepare their stories about the planned theme. This strategy consisted of the operational phases mentioned in the following table.

Table 2- Operational phases of the historical laboratory consigned for the elaboration of the stories

Phase 1. Preparation: the working methodology of the historical laboratory was explained, especially the procedure of the four heuristics (origin heuristic, contextualization, closed reading and heuristic corroboration) that make up the operational axis of this instance.

Phase 2. History Laboratory: a historical laboratory was developed to analyze primary and secondary sources on the assigned position.

Phase 3. Elaboration of the historical story: the students construct a story in free format and based on one of the four interpretations stipulated in table 1. In addition, they were instructed to imagine that it is a story addressed to a foreign primary school student who ignores the planned theme so that they make an effort in their capacity for expression and synthesis.

Phase 4. Instance of socialization: the stories were shared through an online conversation that lasted two sessions.

Source: own elaboration (2021)

This historical empathy exercise allows students to focus on understanding the past, since they must adopt the point of view of real or recreated agents of a historical setting; For this, it is essential that they contemplate and value the different options of action available to historical subjects in a given context. This cognitive process, for this particular case, translates into the elaboration of a historical story whose purpose is to show an empathic or contextualized understanding of the arrival of Christopher Columbus to America, from a previously assigned perspective.

The analysis of the stories was based on the typology proposed by González et al. (2009) to assess the achievement levels of historical empathy present in the narratives constructed by the participants (table 3).

Table 3- Historical empathy achievement levels




A presentist historical empathy is developed: stories that do not use contextual historical references or, when there are, are made from a current perspective. Therefore, the past is not identified.


An experiential historical empathy is presented: narratives that use personal experience (values, desires and expectations) as a criterion for understanding the past. A relationship between past and present is established, but it is done through personal experience.


A simple historical empathy is made visible: stories or answers that explain actions of the past in a different contest from the present, since contextual references are used that help establish similarities and differences between the past and the present.

Source: Own elaboration (2021) based on the work of González et al. (2009)

The interpretation of the historical stories was carried out using the content analysis technique, in order to evaluate their conceptual complexity and carry out the subsequent open coding of the units analyzed from the markers mentioned in table 3. It should be noted that The PF code followed by a number has been used to designate the teachers in training, who participated in the study in order to protect their identity in the analysis of the results, whose processing was carried out using the Atlas.ti program , version 8.1. This methodological scaffolding aims to examine the achievement levels of historical empathy obtained by future teachers in the construction of their narratives, following the constant comparative method of grounded theory to contrast the results evidenced in this research.



Table 4 summarizes the results of the analysis of the stories according to the level of historical empathy evidenced and the assigned historiography position.

Table 4- Levels of historical empathy present in the stories

Level of historical empathy

Percentage of narratives by level of achievement

Percentage of stories according to historiographical perspective


3 (8.3%)

100% conciliatory (3 stories)


18 (50%)

44.4% conciliatory (8 stories)
55.6% anti-colonial (10 stories)


15 (41.7%)

20% conciliatory (3 stories)
20% anti-colonial (3 stories)
33.3% chronological (5 stories)
26.7% Eurocentric (4 stories)

Source: own elaboration (2021)

Firstly, it is observed that the lowest percentage of the narratives is located at the apprentice level, since 8.3% of the stories are conceived from the current perspective and not from the values that come from the historical context corresponding to the arrival of Christopher Columbus to the American continent. In this regard, the following excerpt stands out:

   In the monsters that the visitors arrived in, there were interesting creatures that they had never seen before, many shiny objects and soft fabrics. Anacaona was amazed at everything she observed and, excited, told her brothers: "Look at everything that the visitors bring, they are great things!" (PF3).

In the previous evidence, a series of qualifying and generic attributes are assigned to the animals and objects that were part of the cultural exchange between European and native cultures, a process that constitutes the basis of the conciliatory position. Within this context, the terms "shiny objects", "soft fabrics" and "cool things" are used to encompass some inputs such as silk, linen, mirrors, brooches and needles, but without mentioning them individually and nominative

Regarding the intermediate level, it is important to note that 50% of the stories, which in their entirety belong to the anti-colonial and conciliatory perspective, are located in this segment, because the students resort to their personal experience to understand the subject studied. This type of empathy is confirmed in this excerpt from PF36:

   However, one day all that was interrupted with the arrival of some men equipped with strange weapons and beliefs very different from ours, they even spoke in an unknown way. They stormed our community in a violent way, directing everything, determining what could and could not be done in the place. Our Newenches, disconcerted by this attitude, defended their people with self-made weapons and extensive skill and determination (PF36).

This paragraph, conceived from the anti-colonial position, emphasizes the violence of the process to succinctly reconstruct the Spanish conquest of the Mapuche people; however, it does not use contextual references that allow detailing relevant historical aspects of said episode, such as, for example, the great difference in the war arsenal that existed between Spaniards and indigenous people and the characteristics of the weapons used by the Mapuche, such as arrows, spears and the macanas, to resist colonization.

Within the intermediate level, this excerpt from the story of PF28 also stands out:

   It is at this point, when a long fight begins against these individuals who, apparently, came from another country, indeed, from another continent. Although our defenders also had weapons, the newcomers brought much more powerful ones because they were capable of piercing their bodies and ending the lives of those who faced them (PF28).

This evidence, built from the anti-colonial perspective, supports the military superiority of the colonizers; however, it does not mention historical antecedents that help to understand the features of the weapons carried by the Spanish, such as the arquebus, the blunderbuss, the spear and the metallic back, to subdue the conquered. In addition to the above, another of the characteristic elements found in stories based on the anti-colonial position is the allusion made to the transculturation process that affected the original peoples after the Spanish conquest. Regarding the latter, the following reference stands out:

   Over time, despite all the struggle of our ancestors during those centuries, the invaders won and imposed their language, religion and customs. This is why both you and I speak Spanish. My little Maya, do not forget everything I have told you today because it is very important to be able to continue with our traditions, even though they were about to disappear. Live with joy and gratitude our WeTripantü. You also learn from your father that today as a teacher he does a great job (PF15).

In this extract some data are observed that allow to argue the process of transculturation that the Mapuche people suffered after European colonization in the fields of language, religion and customs; Despite this, it does not specify or contextualize, except for the Spanish language, the specific cultural elements inherited from Spanish culture, such as Catholicism and urban planning based on the checkerboard. Despite the predominance of European civilization that is cited in the framework of the transculturation process, the paragraph also highlights the survival of the WeTripantü or Mapuche New Year that is celebrated between June 21 and 24, but without determining its importance and meaning for this people.

In the case of the narratives based on the conciliatory position and that are of an intermediate level, the explicit and subtle mention made of the peaceful nature of the arrival of Christopher Columbus to the American continent stands out. In this line, this quote stands out:

A man named Cristobel stood in front of me and began to speak: "We came from a long journey to discover new lands and we arrived here. We are not here to harm you or destroy anything, we just want to get to know your culture and for you to get to know ours" (PF13).

Although the extract alludes to the basal component of the conciliatory perspective, it does not mention contextual references that contribute to highlighting the cultural syncretism produced between European and native cultures, such as the introduction of the Castilian language, the Catholic religion, the horse, the pig, barley and oats or the contribution of indigenous people such as corn, tomato, chocolate, peanuts, peppers and avocado.

At the advanced level, it is observed that 41.7% of the narratives are based on simple historical empathy, because they cite historical antecedents that help to establish comparisons between the past and the present. In this regard, the following excerpt from PF7 stands out:

   The children, through the shadows of the stove, could see Akiak, an 8-year-old boy who lived with his Eskimo family in the arctic territories of America, Greenland and Siberia. In this way, they showed how they built igloos to survive low temperatures and how they hunted seals and whales to feed themselves, make shelter and tools (PF7).

In this paragraph, conceived from the chronological position, it alludes to the geographical location of the Eskimos, as well as denotes, in a simple way, the name of their homes and the importance that seals and whales had to satisfy basic needs such as food and clothing. These data are similar to those provided by Bailón (2017), whose work states that the Inuit live in the tundras of northern Canada, Alaska and Greenland, that they lead a nomadic life and that they follow the migrations of animals they hunt, such as caribou. Bears, whales and seals, of which they take advantage of all possible parts to feed, shelter and build homes and tools.

At the advanced level, the following evidence from FP17 also stands out because, from a conciliatory perspective, it clearly identifies the products that were exchanged between Spaniards and indigenous people.

   He kept talking and told me: "Your village is very beautiful, what are these crops made of?" I replied: "On the east side we have avocado, in the west we have corn, in the north there are potatoes, and in the south is where we fish." The boy was very surprised and told me about the animals in his village. "There are all kinds of animals. We have pigs, horses, dogs and some cows. Cows are like fat horses; do you know them?" I was surprised by the name of his cattle, and told him that I did not know any. He very kindly invited me to his big boat so I could see the animals they brought. Among them, there was a brown, tall, thin animal with beautiful hair that ran down its neck, with a very bushy tail and on its legs, there were reinforcements like shiny stones. The boy told me that this animal was a horse and that they used it for transportation, although I don't know what that means either. In addition, we bartered, because he gave me a pair of shoes and I gave him a large golden bracelet that shone brighter than the sun (PF17).

This excerpt alludes to contextual references that support the "encounter of two worlds" defended from the conciliatory position, since it emphasizes the exchange of products and elements that arose between European and Native American culture. From the path of the Spaniards, animals such as the horse, the dog, and the cow are mentioned, and from the indigenous side, foods such as corn, avocado, and potatoes are mentioned. This information is similar to that provided by Cardelús (2018), who points out that the work of Spain in America is highly positive and humanitarian, since the Laws of the Indies, protective and even paternalistic towards the American Indian, led to the survival of the indigenous peoples and the creation of a new hybrid and mestizo race called "Hispanic civilization".

Similarly, the following paragraph of the story of PF21 stands out, because it provides central historical arguments from the anti-colonial perspective.

   But not all the Tainos were willing to leave their beliefs and lands, which is why Christopher Columbus used the motto "by reason or the sword". Pablito, confused, asks him what that motto meant, to which Calek explains by saying that those of the town who did not accept being evangelized would be executed, since Christopher Columbus did not want rebellious indigenous people and, for this reason, about 95% of the Taínos was lifeless. Pablito could not believe that the percentage of mortality after the arrival of the Spanish was so high and, at that moment, Calek tells Pablito that, in addition to some dying in battles, others also died from introduced diseases, such as malaria and the measles (PF21).

In this evidence, contextual references are used that lead to quantifying the estimated percentage of deaths that caused the demographic catastrophe initiated by Christopher Columbus against the original peoples, and which is supported by data presented in the study by Contreras (2020). In addition, some diseases are listed, such as malaria and measles, which were the main causes of this catastrophe.

Finally, at the advanced level, highlight this excerpt:

   - What is happening here? Said the boy, watching with interest. -We have just landed in India, our long-awaited destination, since with my crew we had to find a new trade route to reach these happy lands -Christopher Columbus stated proudly. Why should they seek a new route of travel? Marcellin said curiously. -You'll see little one, the Muslims blocked our way through Constantinople, so we decided to take this route across the Atlantic to fulfill our mission -Columbus pointed out cunningly (PF29).

Regarding this last quote that is part of the Eurocentric position, a simple historical empathy is verified, because the story is based on one of the primary motivations that Christopher Columbus had to undertake his journey across the Atlantic, explicitly alluding to the commercial blockade established in Constantinople by Muslims. This background is corroborated by Antequera (2021), who states that this fact caused a great weakening of Christianity in the old continent and the loss of the routes from Europe to Asia, directly encouraging Columbus' expedition to America given the need to find new commercial routes.



It has been found that most of the teachers in training have an intermediate level of historical empathy, since 50% of the stories, which are based on anti-colonial and conciliatory positions, use the personal experience of the students as a criterion to understand the past. Indeed, half of the sample establishes a relationship between past and present, but they do so based on the values, beliefs and expectations of each participant.

The stories that are of this level and belong to the anti-colonial perspective are characterized by focusing on the violence of the Spanish colonization process; however, they do not usually cite historical antecedents that describe some of its main features, such as the military superiority of the conquerors and the transculturation that affected the original peoples after the conquest. Regarding this last process, its impact on the areas of language, religion and traditions is mentioned, but without specifying which are the current key components of the Spanish legacy such as Catholicism and the checkerboard plane.

On the other hand, the intermediate level stories based on the conciliatory position tend to emphasize the peaceful nature of the historical process studied, but they do not usually mention contextual references that facilitate the understanding of the cultural syncretism that arose between European and native culture, such as the introduction of the horse, the Castilian and the Catholic religion, and the contribution of indigenous peoples such as tomato, corn and avocado.

On the other hand, it should be noted that 41.7% of the participants constructed stories at an advanced level because they used simple historical empathy to give historical support to their stories. In this segment, stories of the four historiographical positions are observed.

In the narratives based on the chronological perspective, it is evident that the majority allude to historical data of the cultures that are part of the four successive discoveries that make up the support of this position, highlighting the case of the Inuit, of whom elemental information is cited about their geographical location, the names of their homes and the importance of seals and whales in their daily lives. In the case of stories based on the conciliatory perspective, which belong to the advanced level, it is observed that they explicitly identify the products that were exchanged between Spaniards and indigenous people. In the segment of those stories that use simple historical empathy and that are based on the anti-colonial position, it is verified that they use contextual references to quantify the impact of the demographic catastrophe initiated by Christopher Columbus in America and, in addition, diseases such as malaria are enunciated and measles, which were the main causes of this great mortality. Finally, in light of the evidence analyzed, it should be noted that the advanced level stories, and that are framed in the Eurocentric perspective, argue that Christopher Columbus came to America due to the commercial blockade established in Constantinople by the Muslims.

Regarding the stories that are located at the apprentice level, it is important to point out that they are a minority, because only 8.3% are based on historical presentism to interpret the arrival of Christopher Columbus given that, from the perspective of the conciliatory position, they tend to use generic qualifying attributes to refer to the inputs that were part of the cultural exchange between Spaniards and indigenous people.

These findings are not consistent with empirical research on the evaluation of historical empathy in future teachers, since most of them argue that only a small group of students make contextualized explanations and that most of the participants link their historical interpretation to the presentism; Indeed, it is evident that the present framework of values does not favor the understanding of the historical circumstances that arise around a certain topic (Guillén, 2016; Calderón and Arias, 2017; Carril, Sánchez and Muñoz, 2020). These results, as Sáiz and López (2015) argue, are the product of the instruction received, since the teacher trainers have not provided the Pedagogy students with the necessary met cognition to understand the bases of historical empathy that help them to evaluate the complexity of past events. This problem shows that teachers in training do not assume a critical epistemological interpretation and that they ignore the historical skills required by students to build advanced-level stories that demonstrate simple historical empathy.

Although the sample size is small, the findings obtained in this research show signs of improvement in the understanding and appreciation of historical empathy in the training of primary school teachers. To broaden the scope of this trend, it is convenient, from the academic-training point of view, to provide better training in historiography, history and historical education, and complement it with reflective and theoretically based teaching practices.



This research is part of the FAD2021-14 Project "Narratives and historical thought. Evaluation of historical competences of future teachers of basic and secondary education through Problem-Based Learning (PBL)", attached to the Universidad Católica de la Santísima Concepción, Chile. The sponsoring institution is thanked for the support granted.



Álvarez, H. (2020). Representaciones eurocéntricas de los conquistadores y colonizados en la historia escolar. Análisis de los manuales chilenos. Revista de Filosofía, 37(96), 141-168. Disponible en: https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.4599789

Antequera, L. (2021). Historia desconocida del descubrimiento de América: En busca de la nueva ruta de la seda. Córdoba: Sekotia.

Bailón, F. (2017). Los inuit: Cazadores del Gran Norte. Barcelona: Nova Casa Editorial.

Calderón, P. y Arias, L. (2017). El desembarco de Colón en San Salvador. Análisis de las narraciones de alumnado español de 10-11 años en términos de perspectiva histórica. REIRE. Revista d'Innovació i Recerca en Educació 10(2), 34-51. Disponible en: https://doi.org/10.1344/reire2017.10.217702

Cardelús, B. (2018). Civilización hispánica: El encuentro de dos mundos. Madrid: Editorial EDAF.

Carril, M., Sánchez, M. y Muñoz, C. (2020). Empatía histórica en futuros profesores de primaria: El trabajo infantil en el siglo XIX. Educação e Pesquisa, (46), 1-18. Disponible en: https://doi.org/10.1590/S1678-4634202046215492

Contreras, C. (2020). La crisis demográfica del siglo XVI en los Andes. Una discusión acerca de sus dimensiones y consecuencias. Diálogo Andino, (61), 7-25. Disponible en: https://dx.doi.org/10.4067/S0719-26812020000100007

Endacott, J. & Brooks, S. (2013). An updated theoretical and practical model for promoting historical empathy. Social Studies Research and Practice, 8(1), 41-58. Disponible en: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Jason-Endacott/publication/270285762_An_Updated_Theoretical_and_Practical_Model_for_Promoting_Historical_Empathy/links/54a704220cf256bf8bb6b9af/An-Updated-Theoretical-and-Practical-Model-for-Promoting-Historical-Empathy.pdf

Guillén, M. (2016). Un viaje al siglo XVI a partir de los casos de un corsario y un bandolero: Una experiencia de empatía histórica en secundaria. Clío: History and History Teaching., (42),1-34. Disponible en: https://dialnet.unirioja.es/servlet/articulo?codigo=5776592

González, N., Henríquez, R., Pagès, J. y Santisteban, A. (2009). El aprendizaje de la empatía histórica en educación secundaria: Análisis y proyecciones de una investigación sobre la enseñanza y el aprendizaje del conflicto y la convivencia en la Edad Media. En: R. Ávila, B. Borghi e I. Mattozzi (Org.). La educación de la ciudadanía y la formación del profesorado: Un proyecto educativo para "la estrategia de Lisboa" (pp. 283-290). Bologna: Pàtron.

Navarro, C. y Corredor, J. (2018). Desarrollo de narraciones históricas en estudiantes de colegios rurales y urbanos. Revista Costarricense de Psicología, 37(1), 41-75. Disponible en: http://dx.doi.org/10.22544/rcps.v37i01.03

Sáiz, J. y López, R. (2015). Competencias y narrativas históricas: El pensamiento histórico de estudiantes y futuros profesores españoles de educación secundaria. Revista de Estudios Sociales, (52), 87-101. Disponible en: http://dx.doi.org/10.7440/res52.2015.06

San Pedro, M. y López, I. (2017). Empatía histórica y aumento de la tolerancia hacia la figura de los refugiados. Revista de Psicología y Educación, 12(2), 116-128. Disponible en: https://doi.org/10.23923/rpye2017.12.150

Valdés, M. y Turra, O. (2017). Racionalidades curriculares en la formación del profesorado de historia en Chile. Diálogo Andino, (53), 23-32. Disponible en: http://dx.doi.org/10.4067/S0719-26812017000200023

Yilmaz, K. (2007). Historical empathy and its implications for classroom practices in schools. The History Teacher, 40(3), 331-337. Disponible en: https://doi.org/10.2307/30036827


Conflict of interest:

TheaAuthor declares not to have any conflicts of interest.


Authors´ Contribution:

The author has participated in the writing of the work and analysis of the documents.


This work is under a
licencia de Creative Commons Reconocimiento-NoComercial 4.0 Internacional
Copyright (c) Humberto Álvarez Sepúlveda