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Education, Entertainment, and Indoctrination

Educational Film in Interwar China

Kaiyi Li


This article demonstrates how educational film in interwar China served the dual purpose of mass recreation and political indoctrination. It places educational film in China in the context of Chinese tradition and the predominance of utilitarian scholarship. On the one hand, China has a long history of using mass-recreational tools in order to influence and control society. On the other hand, foreign educational films available in the early twentieth century were not attractive to Chinese audiences. Hence, the boundary between recreational and educational film at the time was ambivalent and the combination of recreation, education, and propaganda was reflected both in the phenomenon of showing educational films and in the contents of the films themselves.

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History Teaching and Cultural Hegemony

Representations of the Spanish Civil War in Francoist History Textbooks of the 1960s

Johanna Fricke


In the 1960s, facing a series of transformations within Spanish society, the Franco regime modified its self-legitimation strategy and with it its portrayal of the Spanish Civil War. Based on the analysis of nine history textbooks for various levels published between 1954 and 1970, this article demonstrates that, by aiming to neutralize increasing demands for democracy, reconciliation and peace, the Franco regime incorporated elements of the corresponding discourses into its own memory discourse. The later the year of publication and the higher the age of the intended readership, the more signs of this process of incorporation appear in the textbooks. Examples of such traces can be found in the terms used to denote the Spanish Civil War, in the textbooks’ characterizations of the two opposing sides, and in their presentation of both the Francoist governmental system and the development of Spain under Francoism.

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Nazism and the Holocaust in Indian History Textbooks

Basabi Khan Banerjee and Georg Stöber


Recent surveys and reports document a growing phenomenon of “Hitlermania” in some parts of India. This article investigates whether the way in which National Socialism is presented in school education has encouraged this development or, on the contrary, has discouraged a positive valuation of the Nazis, including their leader. It analyzes curricula and a sample of school history textbooks published by state and central education boards, which have been used in Indian schools over the last two decades, focusing on their treatment of National Socialism and the Holocaust. While the results can be partly attributed to government interference in the school history curricula and in textbook writing, there appear to have been other factors at play, such as the social environment.

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Narratives and Multiperspectivity in Dutch Secondary School History Textbooks

Marc Kropman, Carla van Boxtel, and Jannet van Drie


School history textbooks provide an important source of information for learners of history. Textbook narratives of a nation's past often present a limited frame of reference, which impedes the aim of teaching history from multiple perspectives. This article examines the representation of the Dutch Revolt in two Dutch and two Flemish history textbooks. By taking sentences as our unit of analysis, we analyzed narrative elements and metaphors, which informed us about the level of multiperspectivity in these narratives. We found that Dutch textbooks, in contrast to Flemish textbooks, create their emplotment of the narrative of the Dutch Revolt by focusing on the first ten years of the conflict and mostly lack multiperspectivity. We hope that the insights generated by this analysis may inform textbook authors who seek to do justice to multiple perspectives.

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Representations of the Holocaust in Albanian Secondary School History Textbooks since the Educational Reform of 2004

Esilda Luku


This article examines the extent to and the ways in which the Holocaust is presented in Albanian secondary school history textbooks. It offers a quantitative analysis of the space devoted to the Holocaust in proportion to the textbooks’ overall content and a qualitative content analysis based on the narrative patterns outlined in the UNESCO report The International Status of Education about the Holocaust: A Global Mapping of Textbooks and Curricula. It demonstrates that Albanian textbooks offer scant coverage of the Holocaust, but that some changes regarding the conceptualization, contextualization, and narrative of the Holocaust have been implemented since the curricular reform of 2004.

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The Concept of “Consumption” in School Textbooks during the Democratic Transition in Spain (1977–1982)

Mariano González-Delgado and Manuel Ferraz-Lorenzo

This article explains the approach to mass consumption developed in social studies textbooks in the early years of the transition to democracy in Spain. It begins by examining the way in which school textbooks represented consumer society and mass media in the late 1970s. This is followed by an in-depth explanation of the reasons that led the authors of these textbooks to choose one theoretical framework over another. Above all, this article emphasizes the complexity and variety of the historical materials used to represent consumer society, and how this process of social construction is reflected in the textbook content of the time.

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Epistemic Messages in Textbooks for Vocational Education and Training

Florian Berding and Ilka Lau

Epistemic beliefs are individuals’ beliefs about knowledge and knowing. Research assumes that epistemic messages embedded in learning materials shape learners’ beliefs. In order to provide information about these epistemic messages, this article analyzes 4,169 accounting exercises and 1,265 marketing exercises found in training textbooks for retailers, wholesalers, bank assistants, and industrial business management assistants. A latent class analysis identifies four types of exercises. The findings indicate that most epistemic messages emphasize knowledge that consists of stable, interconnected elements that are not useful for professional situations. Knowledge is transmitted by an authority and does not need to be justified. This article provides ideas on the basis of which exercises in textbooks may be revised.

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Explaining Political Apathy in German Civic Education Textbooks

Alexander Wohnig

Since the 1990s, political apathy among young people has been a recurrent issue in political science. This article examines, on the basis of a survey of the current debate about political apathy in Germany and an analysis of civic education textbooks for the lower secondary level in Baden-Württemberg, how contemporary German textbooks reflect young people’s interest in politics. This article will show that, while political apathy in textbooks can be explained as the result of either an individual deficit on the part of the reader or a structuralist deficit of the political system, the latter explanation is more likely to encourage critical political thinking among young people in Germany.

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The Geopolitics of Environmental Education

An Analysis of School Textbooks in the MENA Region

Tobias Ide, Abdulkhaleq Alwan, Khalil Bader, Noureddine Dougui, Maysoun Husseini, Elarbi Imad, Farouk Gaafar Abdel Hakim Marzouk, Amany M. Taha Moustafa, and Riem Spielhaus

This article analyzes the geopolitical imaginations promoted via environmental education in the school textbooks of five states in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. In doing so, it builds bridges between critical studies of education and political ecology. It shows that, when addressing environmental problems, the textbooks examined depoliticize environmental problems and sustain political and economic power structures. They do so by individualizing responsibility for environmental problems, legitimizing political and economic elites, associating environmental protection with wider societal goals, and externalizing environmental problems.

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Nationalsozialismus in deutschen, österreichischen und englischen Lehrwerken der Sekundarstufe I (1980–2017)

Philipp Mittnik

*Full text is in German

National Socialism in German, Austrian and English Secondary School Textbooks (1980–2017)

English Abstract

This article analyzes a selection of German, Austrian and English textbooks dealing with National Socialism. By adopting Waltraud Schreiber’s methodology of categorial textbook analysis, the article presents the surface structure and building blocks as a basis for further analysis. The occurrence (or absence) of the pedagogical historical principle of multiperspectivity is examined with reference to the example of sections concerning “Youth in National Socialism.” Subsequently, the study explores the role of multiperspectivity in the construction of critical historical consciousness. This is followed by a deconstruction of the image of women presented in the textbooks, with particular emphasis on simplifications.

German Abstract

Die Analyse von Schulbüchern aus Deutschland, Österreich und England zum Themenbereich Nationalsozialismus stehen im Zentrum dieses Artikels. Als Methodologie wird die kategoriale Schulbuchanalyse nach Waltraud Schreiber angewandt. Die Erarbeitung der Oberflächenstruktur und der Bausteine werden als Grundlage für weitere Analyseschritte präsentiert. Das (Nicht-) Vorkommen des bedeutenden geschichtsdidaktischen Prinzips der Multiperspektivität wird am Beispiel des Abschnittes „Jugend im Nationalsozialismus“ beschrieben. Multiperspektivität und deren Bedeutung für den Aufbau eines kritischen Geschichtsbewusstseins wird in einem weiteren Schritt hervorgehoben. Abschließend wird das in den Schulbüchern präsentierte Frauenbild dekonstruiert und auf die problematischen Vereinfachungen hingewiesen.