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How Do Students Rate Textbooks?

A Review of Research and Ongoing Challenges for Textbook Research and Textbook Production

Petr Knecht and Veronika Najvarová

This article argues in favor of including students in textbook research. As teachers decide which textbooks to use in their classrooms, they are the ones who influence textbook development. The article presents a research review of students' evaluations of textbooks, demonstrating that inviting students into the debate may result in interesting stimuli for improving textbooks. The article also discusses suggestions based on student feedback.

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Dutch Economic Textbooks in the 1970s

Raising the Status of a New Secondary School Type by Means of Mathematical Abstraction

Gerrit F. Gorter, Hilda T. A. Amsing and Jeroen J. H. Dekker

Essential Economics, the influential economics education textbook written by Arnold Heertje for use in Dutch secondary schools in the 1970s, was characterized by a previously unknown and internationally exceptional degree of abstraction. Its users justified this degree of abstraction by arguing that it fulfilled the needs of mental schooling (in line with the formal education argument upheld by defenders of humanism) and that it would enhance the rigorous status of the new type of school known as athenaeum A. In the 1970s, this economics education design was criticized by Herman Hartkamp, who strove to ground economics education on pupil-centered and social meliorist principles. By explaining this struggle and its outcome, this article exposes the various educational ideologies found in textbooks in the segmented Dutch school system.

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Zulkifli

In addition to offering insight into the discipline of sociology, sociology of education textbooks constitute a major source of sociological knowledge. This article examines the scholarly content of Indonesian sociology of education textbooks by focusing on the degree of commonality between their core content and sources, and between their core content and academic scholarship. The results of this examination reveal a low level of commonality among the core contents of the seven selected textbooks—a heterogeneity that reflects not so much the plurality of Indonesian society and educational institutions or the application of sociological theories and approaches required by the Indonesian curriculum, but rather the diversity of the textbooks’ sources and their authors’ scholarly publication records.

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Textbook Conflicts in South Asia

Politics of Memory and National Identity

Deepa Nair

The aftermath of World War II saw the emergence of many new nation-states on the Asian geopolitical map and a simultaneous attempt by these states to claim the agency of nationhood and to create an aura of a homogenous national identity. Textbooks have been the most potent tools used by nations to inject an idea of a national memory - in many instances with utter disregard for fundamental contradictions within the socio-political milieu. In South Asia, political sensitivity towards transmission of the past is reflected in the attempts of these states to revise or rewrite versions which are most consonant with the ideology of dominant players (political parties, religious organizations, ministries of education, publishing houses, NGOs, etc.) concerning the nature of the state and the identity of its citizens. This paper highlights the fundamental fault lines in the project of nation-building in states in South Asia by locating instances of the revision or rewriting of dominant interpretations of the past. By providing an overview of various revisionist exercises in South Asia, an attempt will be made to highlight important issues that are fundamental to the construction of identities in this diverse continent.

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Seth B. Scott

American history textbooks, for the better part of the twentieth century, have focused on war as the primary actor. This article investigates the pervasiveness of war in textbooks and considers the e ect of such on students and their role as future policymakers. In the past decade, history textbooks have undergone a total transition toward an emphasis on social history. An examination of what this entails, and what impacts this may have on schoolchildren and society as a whole, lends insight into the e ects the study of history can have. Finally, I argue that a historian must not only choose events that illustrate the past, but also determine how those choices may a ect the future.

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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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Sivane Hirsch and Marie McAndrew

This article analyzes the treatment of the Holocaust in Quebec's history textbooks, in view of the subject's potential and actual contribution to human rights education. Given that Quebec's curriculum includes citizenship education in its history program, it could be argued that the inclusion of the Holocaust has particular relevance in this context, as it contributes to the study of both history and civics, and familiarizes Quebec's youth with representations of Quebec's Jewish community, which is primarily concentrated in Montreal. This article demonstrates that the textbooks' treatment of the Holocaust is often superficial and partial, and prevents Quebec's students from fully grasping the impact of this historical event on contemporary society.

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Catherine Broom

This paper presents an overview of British Columbia's (B.C.) educational history, interwoven with descriptions of textbooks. Focusing on social studies textbooks, this article explores change and continuity in the history of public schooling, paying attention to whether citizens were conceptualized as active, passive, or patriotic citizens. It identifies four key periods: the establishment of public schools in B.C., the rise of the Progressivist movement in the 1930s and reaction to it, advocacy of Bruner's structure of disciplines in the 1960s, and pendulum swings in philosophic orientations in the latter part of the twentieth century. The article illustrates connections between contemporary philosophies and textbooks, and identifies continuity and change in the content and aims of the textbooks.

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Shreya Ghosh

If nations are “imagined communities”, as many theorists like to define them, then they need an ideology to create a cohesive imagination. In modern times, the project of writing “history” has been an important instrument in the service of this ideological purpose of justifying and reproducing the modern nation-state as the predestined and legitimate container of collective consciousness. School textbooks, at least in South Asia, have long been among the most exploited media for the presentation of the history of the national collective. This essay is a study of school textbooks in Bangladesh. It looks at narrative representations of selected episodes from the past, both pre- and postindependence, in order to reflect on how they construct “history”. Through this work I endeavor to relate textual images to issues of community relations and identity by identifying and sharing the ways in which the audience for nationalist discourse is created, nurtured, and secured through symbolic means.

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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.