London Metropolitan University Research Institutes

Textbooks and Citizenship Education

Author(s) Maria Luísa Amaral Varela de Freitas  
Publisher CiCe Publications  
Year 2000  
Editor Alistair Ross, Curricula for Citizenship in Europe  
Language English  
Age group -  
Comments: This paper relates an investigation that tries to listen to children?s voices about the social studies textbooks they would like to use the following year. It was developed in nine elementary classrooms that co-operate with the University of Minho in teacher education. Children answered an open question, in a written form, about what they liked and disliked in their textbooks. They were then asked to select three pages they liked and three they did not like, and give reasons. The children loved this particular task. I did not have an explicit hypothesis but I thought they would mainly choose pages related to subject matters they preferred, tasks suggested, illustrations and the kinds of texts. I also thought that they would refer to environmental issues, mainly pollution. But answers to the first question were more or less common and related to my implicit hypothesis. The two topics most students liked more were: the study of the human body and the study o! f the past. But the most important result of this study arose from the pages selection. It was very difficult to understand their answers. They chose pages mainly due to four motivations: the tasks, the subject matter, the aesthetics, and also what was represented - the behaviours, good or bad, most of them citizenship education related. These choices were surprising because textbooks do not value the development of attitudes and values. Therefore two conclusions were drawn from this study: children can tell us many new things, but we should be patient and listen carefully to them; and textbooks? potentiality to promote citizenship should be developed by the authors.

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