Textbooks

10 June 2007

The focus of this article is on the conflict between secular and religious thought in the world of American education. Some years ago, I carried out a large research project on the treatment of religion in the textbooks of American public grammar schools (grades 1-6) and highschools (grades 10-12). The results of this study made it clear that the primary censorship of religion in the United States is through omitting information about religion from educational material. Overt hostility to religion is rare. However the result of leaving out religion and leaving in only the secular world view results in thoroughly biased educational material. The bias is especially clear in sex education, social studies and history.

As more and more Americans have become aware of the anti-religious bias in the state-funded educational bureaucracy, there has been increasing conflict. One result is a growing grass-roots hostility to the modern secular state and especially the philosophy of secularism in the schools. Besides large-scale parental resistance, there is also a new anti-secular, pro-religion -we might say "post-modern"- intelligentsia.

The basic premise of this new movement is to reject much of modernity and especially its expression in secular humanism and in the growth of the bureaucratic welfare state. Most of this new movement is rooted in religion, primarily Protestant Christianity, but the same thing is happening in American Catholicism and Judaism. Besides the pro-religious intellectual positions, and the critique of modern institutions, there have been concrete social and political expressions. One example is the growth of home-shooling. Approximately one million American children are now educated by their parents at home. There is also a large-scale political movement to break up the state's monopoly on education and to allow private and religious schools to receive tax funds.

This new post-modern, pro-family and pro-tradition movement is also supported by the new technology. Personal computers, Internet, fax, etc. are all de-centralizing education and allowing parents to provide sophisticated and superior educational materials to their children at home.

30 November 2006

The aim of this paper is to analyse how textbooks deal with activities which ask students of primary school for working in groups. The sample comprised 24 Social Science, Natural Science and Technology books written for primary school children (6-12 years old). After coding the information it follows a twofold methodological process, in order to offer a qualitative description of groupwork´ activities, as well as a quantitative assessment of the frequency with which they appear and their continuity in primary education.

The results indicate that prevail individual activities, although there are remarkable efforts for introducing groupwork in the textbooks. The underlying educational approach of each publishing firm determines what frequency, treatment and continuity have group-activities. Nevertheless, there are also common denominators, such as the rare presence of groupwork out of school. On the other hand, textbooks give priority to guidelines of tasks, specifying "what to do" but, on the contrary, almost never give guidelines about "how to do" or "how to behave".

 

Key words: Textbooks, citizenship, activities, participation, groupwork, guidelines

28 February 2006

This article deals with the study of personal and social education in the textbooks related with the knowing of the social context, the environment and the technology in the primary school. The contents of eighteen textbooks have been analyzed and classified in three main groups: l) the self (self-consciousness and autonomy 2) the self and social context (knowledge of social groups -family, school, friends, professional groups, local community, the media-, and interpersonal values -responsibility, participation, social skills and diversity-), 3) human being and environment. These contents have been used as categories of analysis in order to know the frequency of use in the textbooks. The results show that the presence of contents related with personal and social education in the textbooks is quite variable. The description of social groups is very high in comparison with the low presence of personal and interpersonal values.

 

Key words: Textbooks, Socialization, Personal-social skills, Personal-social values, Primary school.