Learning About the European Union in Times of Crisis: Portuguese Textbooks’ Normative Visions of European Citizenship
Purpose: To investigate how EU related contents are represented in Portuguese upper secondary school textbooks of History and English as a Foreign Language (EFL).
Design/methodology/approach: The study performs a textbook analysis on two History textbooks and three EFL textbooks to explore if and how EU related topics are addressed. The methodological approach was mainly qualitative, based on a content analysis of the textbooks, but also includes some quantitative data (e.g., number of paragraphs) to determine the importance given to European topics in each of the selected school subjects.
Findings: EFL textbooks have a residual approach to EU topics that is mainly focused in students’ mobility. History textbooks, while containing a significant amount of information about the EU, present it mainly in a non-confrontational perspective and do not prioritize the development of students’ critical thinking about the EU. Our data also points to a predominance of national level citizenship related content, with European citizenship being briefly and normatively presented to the students.
Research limitations/implications: EFL is attended by almost 100% of students in the academic track of secondary education, but History is a curricular subject only available to 25-30% of the students; as such, our findings refer to a specific group.
Practical implications: Textbooks should include more information about the actual problems and challenges of the EU to foster the development of students’ critical thinking about the EU.
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