Jump to content
The Education Forum

History Textbooks and Social Values


Niklas Ammert
 Share

Recommended Posts

I´m a lecturer at the University College of Kalmar in southern Sweden, where I teach Civics/Political Science and run teacher training courses in Civics and in History. I´m a PhD-student in History at Lund University. My thesis focuses on history textbooks at lower secondary school level. One purpose with the thesis is to study how history textbooks represent and interpret social values like "democracy" and "freedom". A historical context may open a way to understand and interpret values. On the other hand, these values can be useful for pupils in learning and understanding the historical process and in stimulating their awareness of history.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I´m a lecturer at the University College of Kalmar in southern Sweden, where I teach Civics/Political Science and run teacher training courses in Civics and in History. I´m a PhD-student in History at Lund University. My thesis focuses on history textbooks at lower secondary school level. One purpose with the thesis is to study how history textbooks represent and interpret social values like "democracy" and "freedom". A historical context may open a way to understand and interpret values. On the other hand, these values can be useful for pupils in learning and understanding the historical process and in stimulating their awareness of history.

In the late 1970s I started a PhD on a similar topic. I discovered that it was the way the material in the text-book that was structured that had the major impact on the political consciousness of the student. In other words, it was the way the material was studied that was more important than the actual topic. That the student had to be turned from a passive to active learner. I concluded that as textbooks were being produced by large corporations in order to deliver the “dominant ideology”, things would only change if educators produced their own teaching materials. However, students had been brought up using professional looking books, videos, etc. Therefore, to really work, radical teachers needed to establish their own publishing companies. I decided to do that and this meant that I had to bring an end to my PhD (I submitted what I had done and got a MPhil instead).

The Internet of course has made it far easier for teachers to produce material that questions the dominant ideology. It is so cheap to do this it is possible to offer them to students, wherever they are located, for free. Whereas multinational corporations have to charge for these materials (subscription sites). Therefore, there has been a power shift that has revolutionary implications for education.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I´m a lecturer at the University College of Kalmar in southern Sweden, where I teach Civics/Political Science and run teacher training courses in Civics and in History. I´m a PhD-student in History at Lund University. My thesis focuses on history textbooks at lower secondary school level. One purpose with the thesis is to study how history textbooks represent and interpret social values like "democracy" and "freedom". A historical context may open a way to understand and interpret values. On the other hand, these values can be useful for pupils in learning and understanding the historical process and in stimulating their awareness of history.

In the late 1970s I started a PhD on a similar topic. I discovered that it was the way the material in the text-book that was structured that had the major impact on the political consciousness of the student. In other words, it was the way the material was studied that was more important than the actual topic. That the student had to be turned from a passive to active learner. I concluded that as textbooks were being produced by large corporations in order to deliver the “dominant ideology”, things would only change if educators produced their own teaching materials. However, students had been brought up using professional looking books, videos, etc. Therefore, to really work, radical teachers needed to establish their own publishing companies. I decided to do that and this meant that I had to bring an end to my PhD (I submitted what I had done and got a MPhil instead).

The Internet of course has made it far easier for teachers to produce material that questions the dominant ideology. It is so cheap to do this it is possible to offer them to students, wherever they are located, for free. Whereas multinational corporations have to charge for these materials (subscription sites). Therefore, there has been a power shift that has revolutionary implications for education.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I´m a lecturer at the University College of Kalmar in southern Sweden, where I teach Civics/Political Science and run teacher training courses in Civics and in History. I´m a PhD-student in History at Lund University. My thesis focuses on history textbooks at lower secondary school level. One purpose with the thesis is to study how history textbooks represent and interpret social values like "democracy" and "freedom". A historical context may open a way to understand and interpret values. On the other hand, these values can be useful for pupils in learning and understanding the historical process and in stimulating their awareness of history.

In the late 1970s I started a PhD on a similar topic. I discovered that it was the way the material in the text-book that was structured that had the major impact on the political consciousness of the student. In other words, it was the way the material was studied that was more important than the actual topic. That the student had to be turned from a passive to active learner. I concluded that as textbooks were being produced by large corporations in order to deliver the “dominant ideology”, things would only change if educators produced their own teaching materials. However, students had been brought up using professional looking books, videos, etc. Therefore, to really work, radical teachers needed to establish their own publishing companies. I decided to do that and this meant that I had to bring an end to my PhD (I submitted what I had done and got a MPhil instead).

The Internet of course has made it far easier for teachers to produce material that questions the dominant ideology. It is so cheap to do this it is possible to offer them to students, wherever they are located, for free. Whereas multinational corporations have to charge for these materials (subscription sites). Therefore, there has been a power shift that has revolutionary implications for education.

Thanks for starting this discussion!

I can agree with your interpretation of textbooks and their commercial dependence. I´m not quite sure that material from the Internet will replace textbooks, not yet. In that case, wouldn´t that mean a risk for manipulation? Many teachers and pupils can, I´m sure, use the internet material for good purposes, but not everyone.

What do we mean by "radical teachers"? Those who "know" something others don´t know or those who oppose our democratic society? I hope not! In sweden there is a clear and present message from the Parliament and the Government: Teach and persuade the children about democracy, even in History! The question is: -Is the mission ackomplished? Schools teach democracy, but from our present point of view. Textbooks don´t recognize or present the historical differences or the changing perspectives. I think that schools can do better to help pupils analyze, interpret and understand democracy and history.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Please sign in to comment

You will be able to leave a comment after signing in



Sign In Now
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...