Paradigm, No. 14 (September, 1994)

 

Manuels scolaires, Etats et sociétés: XlXe. -- XXe. siècles [Numero Spécial de la revue Histoire de l’Education, no. 58 Mai 19931 Sous la Direction d’Alain Choppin (Paris: Service d’histoire de l’Education de l’institut national de recherche pedagógique, 29 rue d’Ulm, 75230 Paris Cedex 05) ISSN 02216280. 221pp,

As the title indicates, this book is a special number of the periodical Histoire de l’Education, edited by Alain Choppin, and given over to a series of articles on textbooks, linking these to the evolution of states and societies in the 19th and 20th centuries. Its coverage and authorship are international in scope; there are articles on textbooks in Greece from 1834 to 1937 by Christina Koulouri and Lina Venturas; on politics and textbook production in Spain by Agustin Escolano; on the evolution of anthologies for primary and secondary schools in Sweden by Boel Englund; on the historical sociology of textbook production in England with special reference to Kennedy’s Latin Primer by Chris Stray; on what illustrations in French history textbooks reveal about underlying ideologies with respect to colonialism by Yves Gaulupeau; on the influence of textbooks on pupils’ and adults’ recollections and views on historical events in Québec by Christophe Caritey; and finally an attempt by Alain Choppin to classify and quantify the extent of French research on the history of textbooks using his database, Emmanuelle 5.

Whilst each article has its own special contribution to make, it would be true to say that the common feature of most is the notion that textbooks evolve as a result of changes which occur in societies, in their economics, in their political ideologies, and in the education systems which serve them. Thus the perspectives are essentially historical and sociological, though limited use is made of theory except perhaps in the article by Chris Stray. However, in the opening sentence of his introduction, Choppin announces what he sees as the leitmotif of textbook research: ‘School textbooks are not just pedagogical tools: they are also the products of social groups which seek by this means to perpetuate their identity, their values, their traditions and their culture’(p. 5). Maybe this is so, but whether the process is quite as deliberate as Choppin seems to imply is, in my view, not proven. Let us, however, examine the various authors’ findings.

The article on Greek textbooks between 1834-1937 is significant in that it is one of the few pieces of writing on the subject to be published in a language other than Greek. In fact, as the authors admit, very little was published on Greek textbooks before the late 1970s and early 1980s. It is perhaps just as well to remind ourselves that the modern Greek state did not emerge from Ottoman domination until 1830 and that its history during the 19th and 20th centuries was one of considerable political instability in which liberal and reactionary governments succeeded one another with two periods of dictatorships, the Metaxas dictatorship from 1936 to 1941 and that of the colonels from 1967 to 1974, though the latter dictatorship is outside the period considered by the authors. These denote two main periods in the history of textbooks in Greece to 1937; the first from 1834 to 1907 in which there was an oscillation between tolerating a plurality of textbooks and imposing a uniformity in the control and provision of textbooks; the second period from 1907 to 1937, marked by the polarisation of ideological conflicts. However, as the authors indicate, during the first period laws were passed, but the situation ‘in the field’ was often very different from what the law ordained. But in 1907, a law was passed which forms the culminating point of centralising tendencies; each class was to have a single textbook for each subject, the textbook being authorised by the state.

The language question underlay the debate about the need for the state to control the production and use of textbooks. Broadly, there was a profound attachment by conservative-minded Greeks to classical Greek, and textbooks were drafted in a language, the ‘katharévoussa’, which is close to classical Greek and purified of popular forms of spoken Greek. As a result it was, as some averred, incomprehensible to the average pupil, and ‘modernists’ wished that the spoken language, or ‘demotic’ language, be used in schools and in textbooks. Thus, during the second period considered by the authors, 1907-1937, there was a struggle between those who wished to see Greece develop along lines similar to the economically powerful western democracies, epitomised by the liberal leader Venizelos, and those allied to the Crown who wished in some way to preserve Greece in a pristine state. In 1917 and 1918 laws were passed liberalising the control of textbooks and installing the ‘demotic’ language in the early classes in the primary schools, but attempts were made to undo this in 1927; while in 1931 a liberal minister approved the use of the ‘demotic’ language in all primary school classes, a conservative law of 1933 returned to centralising the control of textbooks ‘because these express the views of the state on the aims of education’. Whilst the issue in the England and Wales of the 1980s and 1990s may not be directly concerned with textbooks but with the National Curriculum, there is a parallel with the Greece of the 1920s and 1930s in regard to views on education. It is interesting that liberal Ministers of Education in Greece then felt that they had to employ tactics to circumvent the conservative influences of officials in the Ministry of Education. Duncan Graham in his book on his experiences at the National Curriculum Council, A lesson for us all (Routledge, 1993) argues that it was the civil servants at the DES who wished to control the development of the curriculum and, though no mention is made of textbooks, these have of necessity to be in conformity with the curriculum in each subject otherwise they would not sell.

Spain appears to have been slow to develop textbooks for general use in schools. Agustin Escolano takes the view that, though a system of education was being established from the middle of the 19th century, the only book available in many schools was the master’s book. Thus, although liberal ideas prevailed as to the free choice of textbooks, it was hardly a practical reality. It was not until the end of the 19th century and the first third of the 20th century that textbooks began to be generally used by children in schools. But during that period these textbooks were the basis of all education and so were seen as of prime importance. This view led to a certain amount of control over which books were acceptable for use in schools; consequently there was some limited choice of textbooks to be used in any given subject area. The Concordat signed with the Holy See in 1851 inevitably led to an attempt at a stricter ideological control of textbooks, though Escolano indicates that this was not exercised with much rigour at first. A later law of 1857 (the Moyano law) tended to reinforce the ecclesiastical sanction for textbook approval.

Apart from the six years following the 1868 revolution, the Moyano law was to be the essential framework for the consideration of textbook publication and adoption by schools, though modified in a liberal or conservative sense from time to time. The advent of the short-lived republic from 1931 to 1936 (when the civil war began) saw an attempt at giving teachers a much greater choice of textbooks while at the same time making sure that these books did not exalt previous régimes or advocate religion, which was seen as not the concern of the school. This was reversed when Franco came to power and the authority of the church in the control of textbooks was re-established. However, the decision taken in the later years of the Franco régime to modernise the Spanish economy led to a need to change the education system and its textbooks, a process which was not always in harmony with the socially conservative views of the administration and the church. With the gradual re-establishment of a democratic régime in the 1970s and under the 1978 constitution, teachers are now free to adopt whatever textbook they prefer, provided it is suitable for the curriculum and not in contravention of the Spanish Constitution and human rights.

 The Spanish experience is, if different in detail, similar in general trend to the Greek experience, in which textbooks and education are seen by the authorities as legitimate means of exercising influence over young minds, in order to bring up a new generation imbued with what it sees to be the ‘right’ ideas and behaviour. In both cases no evidence is presented as to whether these aims were ever achieved, though both sets of authors indicate that the reality was often different from what the laws prescribed, The main difference lies in the absence of any consideration of the language question in Spanish textbooks, though this must have been an issue.

Boel Englund, the author of ‘One hundred and fifty years of readers and anthologies in Swedish schools’, begins by making a contrast between an 1853 edition of The Little Catechism of Dr Martin Luther and an anthology published in 1981 called From the Bible to Blanche in both of which there are questions for the pupils. But whereas in the former case the responses are given and are to be learnt by heart, in the latter the questions are open-ended and ask the pupil for his or her views based on what he or she has read in the text. As he indicates later, Sweden was for most of the 19th century and for the early years of the 20th century a profoundly rural society in which social divisions were fixed, and seen by the authorities and the Lutheran Church as immutable. Given this view of society, Englund argues: ‘the principal function of the Swedish primary school was to prepare those children of the ordinary people who attended, for the religious education required for the First Communion’ (p. 52) and also to accept their station in life. Part of the catechism insists that all authorities were set up by God and so to oppose authority is to oppose God.

In 1868 The Little Catechism was supplemented by a Reader for the Folkschool which contained a series of extracts from different sources tending to broaden the knowledge of Swedish primary school children on nature, history, geography, morals and so on. For many children this was the only contact they had with books, and many remember it with gratitude, even though its general messages were conformist and tended to instil patriotism and respect for authority. This Reader was to be supplemented in the early years of the 20th century by others promoted by the Association of Swedish Primary Schoolteachers, often written by well-known authors and appealing to pupils’ sense of adventure and imagination.

With the growth and development of secondary education from 1905 onwards, the anthologies used by pupils, which had been essentially histories of literature, changed gradually and became a collection of extracts from great Swedish authors. Englund argues that the choice of extract did not always depend essentially on literary merit, but that that religious and nationalistic considerations appeared to be present also. Subsequently, in the 1950s and 1960s, parallel with the democratisation of Swedish education, anthologies begin to be published and used in schools which though not revolutionary in scope began to incorporate great authors from other cultures. By the 1980s, such anthologies as Dialog (edited by Hugo Rydin, Natur och Kultur, 1982) present an almost complete break with the past. They are very much anchored in the contemporary world and deal with subjects which would have been taboo for earlier generations: violence, social injustice, sexual relations, war and peace and the myths on which certain civilisations are founded. They attempt to involve the pupil in an understanding of the human condition.

Englund concludes that, though the contrast between the catechism of the mid-19th century and the anthologies of the late-20th century is great, nevertheless both attempt social control. In the one case this is explicit and exclusive, and in the other there are competing influences in society, but the very fact that the anthologies and the associated pedagogy attempt to obtain the willing co-operation of the pupil makes the process more insidious.

I have always been sceptical of those who see some form of indoctrination in modern pedagogical practice. Encouraging pupils to think for themselves seldom results in uniformity of views or ideology. But Englund’s analysis of the changing content and pedagogical emphasis of readers and anthologies within a given national and social context is a useful contribution to textbook research.

Chris Stray calls his article "Quia Nominor Leo: towards a historical sociology of the textbook", because he has chosen to illustrate his theme by using the example of Kennedy’s Latin Primer, a textbook which he has studied intensively through its various editions. Let me, however, begin by summarising his thesis as I understand it.

Firstly, textbooks are a form of cultural transmission in which coded messages about content and pedagogy are sent to the recipients who may not decode the message in the way intended by the writer or writers. Secondly, textbooks as distinguished from schoolbooks, that is books that not only dispense the content of a discipline but also attempt to teach it by including progressive exercises, made their appearance from 1830 and grew rapidly in number with the development of the so-called public schools for the middle and upper classes of society and of elementary schools for the lower orders. They became not only cultural products but significant economic products. Certain publishers such as Longmans became dependent on certain Latin textbooks for their profits; certain authors became very well off because their textbooks were widely used; litigation sometimes resulted from accusations that some authors plagiarised others’ works.

The consumers of textbooks, namely the pupils, were not the direct purchasers, decision about choice being made by teachers or school authorities. Because of the dual purpose of a textbook, there is often a tension between the logical order of the content and the pedagogical process by which the content is taught. The textbook is often remembered by pupils with a mixture of affection and distaste; the extent of each depended on the precise way the messages in them were decoded by the pupil. Because they were seen essentially as routinely used instruments of low-level learning, they were not accorded much status by librarians and therefore not stored in libraries, which makes their study difficult for present-day researchers.

In summary Stray sees the textbook as a cultural product worthy of study because it exhibits influences emanating from culture (high?); pedagogy (or androgogy); publishing (technical and economic) and from society (its composition and structure).

Given this framework, Stray goes on to examine textbooks of Latin grammar in 19th-century England. Here, this reviewer must admit a certain incompetence, as he has never at any time studied Latin or its grammar. However, given the sociological analysis favoured by Stray, this may not be too much of a handicap. What seems to emerge from this analysis is that for many years in the early-19th century, the Eton Latin Grammar was the preferred instrument in many schools mainly because Eton was the most prestigious school in England at that time. But partly for pedagogical reasons and partly because of new developments in philology, its contents began to be seen as somewhat passé. It was gradually replaced in schools by a Latin grammar written by Christopher Wordsworth, headmaster of Harrow School and a nephew of the poet. This Latin grammar became dominant on the market for 25 years, but in 1866 its sales plummeted in favour of a rival book written by Benjamin Kennedy, head of Shrewsbury School. The success of Kennedy’s Latin Primer, as it became known, is an interesting story, because it results more from a political decision than from an appreciation of the quality of the book. The Clarendon Commission, appointed by the government in 1861 with a view to stimulating the development of the nine best ‘public schools’ in England, commissioned the drafting of Greek and Latin textbooks for use in these schools. Kennedy’s Primer was chosen as a model. Although on its publication in 1866 it was heavily criticised for not taking into account new developments in philology and for its pedagogical approach, these objections were ignored and the Public School Latin Primer was introduced into the so-called Clarendon Schools. The dominance of Kennedy’s Primer was such that other textbooks adopted his ordering of cases (nominative, accusative, genitive, dative, ablative); even though originally they had preferred a different system. Even the Headmaster’s Conference set up a committee in the 1880s to revise Kennedy’s Latin Primer, though this came to nothing and eventually a Revised Latin Primer was published, though written by Kennedy’s daughters.

Stray goes on to demonstrate how this textbook became a kind of institution for certain members of society (I for one had never heard of it until meeting Stray), how cartoons were drawn about its author, how former pupils who had used the primer could recite doggerel from it about the classification of nouns; this is what Stray calls the decoding process. He ends by arguing that the imposition of such a text results from the interaction of commercial, ideological, and institutional imperatives.

It seems clear to me that given Stray’s evidence, if the ‘establishment’ (in the form of the Clarendon Commission) had decided that Kennedy’s Primer was to be the public schools’ Latin grammar, then the commercial interests, the publishers, were unlikely to go against this. But once a book assumes a critical mass, as did Kennedy’s Primer, it becomes very difficult to challenge its dominance, because so much professional teacher expertise is invested in it. Compare, for example, the dominance of Ridout’s textbooks in English teaching in the 1950s and 1960s, of Stamp’s textbooks in geography in the 1940s. Thus though there may be many idiosyncratic reasons why a textbook comes to be written, what determines its success may be a mixture of its intrinsic quality (though not apparently in the case of Kennedy’s Primer) and official patronage of one sort or another. Although Stray makes the observation that the ideology of 19th-century England emphasised liberty and independence and that the imposition of Kennedy’s Primer was contrary to such notions, I find it difficult to believe that this was a serious issue: class solidarity was probably sufficient to stifle any serious challenge in that direction. Grammar may stimulate passions, but seldom of an ideological kind. Had the textbook been one on history, the ideological element would undoubtedly have loomed much larger.

In his article ‘The analysis of textbooks by their illustrations’ Yves Gaulupeau has undertaken an analysis of elementary history textbooks destined for primary school children in France, with a view to finding out the kind of representation these give of the French Colonial Empire, both through the text and through the illustrations. He has chosen the period 1880 to 1989 and, using pages devoted to text and illustrations of the French Colonial Empire, he arrives at a series of figures which are broadly similar whatever the level of the textbook (first or second year of the primary course), whether the books are used in state schools or those run by the church, or whether one examines the period from 1880 to 1918, 1919 to 1944, 1945 to 1969, or 1970 to 1989. First there is a tendency to devote slightly more pages to illustrations than to text, but the overall percentage varies between 10% and 14% for text and between approximately 12% and 20% for illustrations. What is significant is that there is a marked diminution in the percentage of pages given over to the Colonial Empire as one progresses from the earlier period towards the period ending in 1989, by which time only about 6% of both text and images are devoted to the former Colonial Empire. A breakdown of the percentages of illustrations in 10-year periods shows that the maximum percentage is reached in the period ending in 1900.

Hereafter there is a steady decline apart from a short-lived increase from 1930 to 1940 when some attempt was made to focus attention on the Empire prior to the Second World War. Also significant is the relative proportion of pages given to various parts of the former French Empire, with nearly 60% being devoted to the Maghreb, about 15% each to Black Africa and Asia, and about 10% to the territories of the Indian and Pacific Oceans.

Gaulupeau also analyses the different types of illustrations in the textbooks, portraits, general scenes, maps and exotic images, and also the themes they refer to: the colonial conquests, the effect of colonisation, and decolonisation. There is much to interest the educational researcher as to which historical events were deemed significant enough or dramatic enough to be represented by an illustration of one sort or another. Inevitably, the emphasis on colonial conquests declines as one approaches the present day; but the effects of colonisation tend to be present to a greater extent in the later rather than the earlier years. These tend to concentrate on the so-called civilising influence of the French on the native populations and on the economic benefits brought by trade and development. But in the later years the illustrations are used often to question the relationship between the colonisers and the people of the colonised territories. For example a photograph showing a white man being carried by four black Africans carries the caption ‘This photograph gives an idea of the relationship between the colonisers and those colonised’1. Similarly in the later years, the wars of decolonisation which France lost in Vietnam and Algeria are referred to. There is, however, a marked time lag between the events of decolonization as they occurred and their representation in the textbooks, compared with the alacrity with which colonial conquests were inserted in the early years.

This study demonstrates a useful technique for studying textbooks over time, especially when a relevant theme such as colonization is the focus of attention. It reveals how the choice of images reflects contemporary views and how changing ideology may lead to the same images being used in very different ways. It is a technique which has been used in, for example, studying geography textbooks with a view to finding out what aspects of development in low-income countries have been stressed, or how far equal opportunities are illustrated either with respect to gender or ethnic groups.

‘Textbooks and recollections of historical events in Quebec’, is the only article in the present volume which attempts to find out how far textbooks have had any effect on those for whom they are written. Christophe Caritey first concentrated on the beginnings of New France (1608-1663) and analysed how this was represented in textbooks available from 1923 (a year in which a new curriculum was initiated in Québec province) to 1989 (the year in which his research started). Secondly, he attempted to find out, by means of questionnaires distributed to people of a wide age range, how far they had some knowledge of the events referred to in the textbooks and whether the source of that knowledge was in fact the textbook rather than some other source.

Caritey analysed 45 history textbooks that were authorised by the Education Department of the Québec government and which dealt with the period under consideration, namely 1608 to 1663. Two basic methods were used in this analysis. The first was to note rapidly whether or not a particular event or theme was mentioned in the textbooks studied. The second was to read the texts more carefully and to make a quantitative analysis of the frequency with which certain events, themes or symbols previously noted were mentioned.

In the analysis of the textbooks it was possible to come to certain conclusions about the extent to which there had been an evolution in the themes, ideas and events dealt with over time. The questionnaire which was administered was based essentially on those aspects of the content of the textbooks which had evolved to a significant degree over the period considered (1923-1989). The questionnaire design involved the use of attitude-seeking questions of the usual format (‘strongly agree’ to ‘strongly disagree’), multiple-choice closed questions, and open-ended questions which attempted to get respondents to recall their knowledge of certain historical events. For example the first question asked: ‘What can you say about New-France during the period from the foundation of Quebec by Champlain in 1608 to 1663 when New France becomes a Royal Colony directly ruled by the king of France?’

The questionnaire also asked for personal details of the respondent such as age, sex, occupation, level of study, interest in history, and views about schooling. The questionnaire contained some 60 questions in total and was 15 pages long: 157 questionnaires were completed; 27 from 11-to-13 year olds; 28 from 15-to-16 year olds, and 102 from individuals aged from 18-to-83, none of whom was still studying history. The first two age groups had a 100% response since the questionnaires were administered in a school. The older age group for whom the filling-in of the questionnaire was voluntary produced a 30% response rate.

There are significant changes in the content and emphasis of these Québec history textbooks over time. For example, prior to 1967 New France is seen as an essentially agricultural settlement in which Frenchmen also carry out a religious mission of spreading Christianity to the native Amerindian population which is pictured as cruel. After 1967 New France is seen as a series of trading posts and the attitude to the indigenous population becomes more neutral. Further, whilst earlier textbooks treat history as essentially a series of events from which patriotic attitudes may be developed, post-1967 textbooks tend to seek explanations for events, and post-1982 textbooks are much more thematic in their treatment of the past, seeking explanations and emphasising the role of the historian and the methods used to arrive at explanations of the past.

It would take too long to follow in detail the questionnaire analysis undertaken by Caritey, interesting though it is. Suffice it to say that, according to his findings, textbooks seem to have little influence on respondents’ views of what historical discourse is about; on the other hand it is clear that certain historical ‘facts’ known to respondents can be traced directly to the contents of certain textbooks. More powerful appears to be what Caritey calls the ‘interpretative framework’ which I understand to mean the kind of explanations offered; these feature more strongly among the younger age group which is less distant from the textbook than the older age groups where other sources of interpretation, including their own experience, may loom large. In fact this is mentioned by some older respondents who have become conscious that what they were taught at school was somewhat biased, particularly by the influence of the clergy, who in Quebec used to be all-powerful.

Although there were individual differences between the respondents, Caritey carried out a series of chi-square tests to find out whether the link between those differences in individual responses and the individual variables, such as sex, level of education, occupation, social class, were significant. But he came to the conclusion that these variables, given the lack of significance, could not explain the individual variables he had noted.

In general, Caritey concludes that the influence of the history textbook is certainly present but that it is limited. Once the pupil no longer follows history courses, other sources of influence have an effect which may or may not entirely swamp the textbook knowledge.

In my view this is a most useful piece of research which attempts to examine the long-term as well as the short-term influence of textbooks. Though the author is conscious of some of the imperfections of his research as well as of some of the questions it raises, it would certainly be worthwhile replicating such research in different national and educational contexts.

Alain Choppin, who in many ways may be seen as one of the foremost workers in the field of textbook research, has set up a data bank which he has called Emmanuelle 5, in which he has incorporated all publications in France which in some form or other have textbooks as their objects of study. It contained at the time he wrote this article 1271 references, of which, strictly speaking, only 448 relate to the history of textbooks. In the present article Choppin analyses the content of the 448 references to the history of textbooks. He does this in a number of ways. First he tabulates the references according to their length; for example there are 66 that are from one to five pages long. Secondly he classifies them according when they were written. Thirdly he indicates what type of publication each reference is, using such headings as ‘articles’, ‘contribution to books’, ‘books’ and what he calls ‘university works’, which I presume means dissertations and theses. There is a good deal of cross tabulation and so, for example, one can find out that four books on the history of textbooks were published between 1910 and 1919. It is evident from such tables that the overwhelming majority of references are post-1960: 388 out of 448.

Choppin goes on to classify the references according to their main concerns, using such headings as ‘bibliographic’, ‘economic’, ‘technical and publishing’, ‘ideological or sociological’, ‘linguistic’, ‘methodological’, ‘pedagogical’, ‘legal’, and ‘structural’, the latter having to do with the way a textbook is structured and printed. Those publications concerned with ideology and pedagogy dominate the total number of references, but in the period 1980-93 it is the growth in the number of works on the pedagogical aspects of textbooks which is most noticeable, though, from a lower base, there are also significant developments recently in the number of publications devoted to the language of textbooks and to the methods used in their study.

Another aspect of the databank is the distribution of references as between primary and secondary education, which shows that 70% are concerned with primary education. This is probably due to the fact that until 1960, secondary education in France tended to be reserved for an élite whereas primary education was available and compulsory for all. This dominance of the primary sector has had some influence on the subject breakdown of the references. Of 294 references which relate to particular disciplines, nearly 60% relate to social studies, 20% to the teaching of reading and writing, 12% to what be calls ‘literary studies’ (French and French literature, classical and modem languages) and only 4% to science and mathematics. Surprisingly there is no reference to any study of English-language textbooks although almost all children study this language.

Lastly it is evident that contemporary concerns have influenced the kinds of studies which have been undertaken. Thus, as we have seen, in relation to Gaulupeau’s article, the theme of colonialism, though popular in the 1960-79 period, has declined in the period 1980-93. On the other hand, feminism and the question of ethnic minorities in textbooks are much more to the fore in the more recent publications.

Choppin has done well to collate all these sources of published information on the history of textbooks and in giving a breakdown of the database. As he states, however, it says nothing about unpublished work or work in progress. Emmanuelle 5 should be accessible through electronic mail in due course; it is at present available through the French Minitel system, code 36-16 INRP, choice EMMANUELLE, then EMMABIBLIO.

This volume is the second substantial publication to come from France on the subject of textbooks, the first being Alain Choppin’s Les Manuels Scolaires: Histoire et Actualité (Paris: Hachette, 1992) on the history of textbooks in France. The present publication is still largely historical in emphasis but it covers four European countries as well as France and one Canadian Province. To that extent Choppin as the editor has done a useful job in gathering together in one book and in one language, research studies which might otherwise have been published in a variety of journals in five different languages. Those whose interest is in textbook research must be grateful to Choppin for undertaking this task.

The contributions tend to vary in emphasis. Those from Greece and Spain are aimed at highlighting the clear connection which existed in those two countries between political ideology and legislation on the control of textbooks. This resulted over time in policies and legislation on textbooks which swung from being liberal to being extremely conservative. In Greece the language of the textbook was a powerful issue, whereas in Spain the power of the church loomed large. The Swedish contribution is more concerned to show how the messages delivered by textbooks changed over time in harmony with changes in society and in general attitudes. From reinforcing patriotism and respect for God and authority, textbooks came to encourage Swedish children to respect other cultures and to develop their ability to think things through for themselves. This process is well documented. Strangely, in my view, the author seems to believe that recent textbooks represent a more insidious form of social control than did those of the mid-19th century. To some extent, the French contribution carries a similar message, namely that changing ideas and events in society affect the content of textbooks. In this case changing ideas on colonialism affect not only the quantity of illustrations referring to the former French Empire, but also the use made of those illustrations. From Québec comes an empirical study revealing that history textbooks do influence the way people remember historical events, but more strongly affect the interpretative framework they use, though this effect declines the more distant the individual is from his or her contact with the textbook. The British contribution is more difficult to categorise as it contains both a theoretical overview of the textbook as a cultural product and an analysis of how a particular Latin grammar textbook came to dominate the market in the latter part of the 19th century and the first part of the 20th century. Whilst Stray illustrates how older members of society still remember certain things from the Latin grammar, it is not clear how significant such a book was to society as a whole.

The diversity of the contributions should provoke many to investigate further the issues raised in this book -- or indeed to develop an interest in issues not given an airing, such as the extent to which publishers reacted to manuscripts, or became pro-active in the development of textbooks.

 

Norman Graves

172 Stoneleigh Park Road,
Epson, Surrey KT19 ORG

 Notes
 1. Chaulanges M. and S. el Scalabrino, L’Histoire au Cycle Moyen (Delagrave, 1985)

 


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