Reading about the enemy: School textbook representation of Germany's role in the war with Britain during the period from April 1940 to May 1941

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Abstract

Much analysis of National Curriculum emphasis upon 'British history' has centred upon 'national identity'. This article argues that coverage of 'British history' will inevitably present images of other nations. In developing a sense of 'Britishness' pupils will attach identities to other nations. The focus is school textbook coverage of Germany's wartime role from April 1940 to May 1941. In covering Britain's 'finest hour' texts present images of the German enemy. These images are explored using quantitative and qualitative research techniques. Images of mindless instinctive aggression by automatons are in the foreground of what I term the 'German condition'. The means employed by school textbooks to construct these images are also analysed. School text coverage is compared with a small number of established academic histories. These are shown to be both richer and more diverse in character. This article concludes by considering the political and educational questions raised. There are concerns about how pupils will view Britain's powerful European partner. There are implications for curriculum control content and pedagogy.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)327-340
Number of pages14
JournalBritish Journal of Sociology of Education
Volume17
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Sep 1996
Externally publishedYes

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