London Metropolitan University Research Institutes

England’s self-image as portrayed in public examination Citizenship Education textbooks

Author(s) Leighton, R.  
Publisher London: CiCe  
Year 2014  
Editor P. Cunningham & N. Fretwell (eds.) Innovative Practice and Research Trends in Identity, Citizenship and Education  
Age group -  
This paper is based on an analysis of the images in five textbooks aimed at young people (14-16 year olds) taking public examination courses in Citizenship Education in England. While the subject is a statutory part of England’s National Curriculum (Department for Education, 2013a), examination is not compulsory and it is often the case that schools do not observe the minimum statutory requirements (Ofsted, 2010). With reference to Fang (1996) and others showing the role of images in motivating pupils and scaffolding their learning, as well as Freire’s (2006) notion of the thick wrappers of multiple ‘whys’ which attach to any educational entity, it is considered that images are at least as important as text. The focus is primarily on the images which relate to gender, class and ethnicity – what those images indicate regarding the ‘official’ perception and presentation of these socially constructed and defined categories, and the extent to which that perception can be said to be verified or sustained through other data. A fourth category, the ‘English citizenship’ perception of the foreign – the European Union and the world beyond Europe – is also considered. While the images presented in the textbooks are analysed to demonstrate the ‘English persona’ which they imply, that persona is also shown to be emphasised by what is absent from the images. The presence of specific images represents choices made, so that the absence of others can be considered similarly to represent choices. These choices are shown to speak volumes about the gap between England’s state directed self-image and the reality of citizenship in England.

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