Gender, Race and Generation in Algerian Secondary School Textbooks

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The present research is an attempt to evaluate the Algerian new reform-based English Textbooks designed for Secondary School Education with regards to gender, race and generation. Our particular interest in conducting a Magistér dissertation on these issues was triggered by the function that school textbooks have as“powerful agents of socialization”. It can be argued that coursebooks, with all their aspects, have the power of altering students’opinions and beliefs on many socio-cultural matters such as gender, race and generation since the majority of classroom teaching is carried out by the use of them.In relation to this, critical theorists reject the claim that schooling constitues a valu-neutral process and argue that schools often operate with the intent to reproduce the values and privileges of the dominant culture (Darder, 1991). Hence,school textbooks have effects on students’cognitive and emotional formation. Therefore, recent trends in English Language Teaching (ELT) research necessitates the study of coursebooks and instructional materials from various perspectives including their cultural, social, and psychological qualities and effects (Kramsch 2000). Gender, race and generation as represented in school textbooks are worth studying because students are exposed to many words and images effecting their knowledge, perceptions and world views. It is believed that by focusing on how characters are portrayed in an EFL textbook , an infinte number of messages or values are passed on to students. Such values, then, may turn into stereotypical thinking of students towards others in society, inevitably building onto the malpractices such as hatred, intolerance, or belittling of others. Therefore, Our intention in the research at hand is to unveil the way characters:Female, male, groups minorities and elders are represented in the new manuals since one of the aims of the latest reform is to promote values and not demote them. To reach this aim, Sadker and Sadker‘s seven categories of II bia(invisibility, stereotypes, linguistic bias,unreality, fragmentation, selectivity and cosmetic bias) were used as our theoritical starting to investigate and explore the different forms of bias that may be found in At the Crossroads, Getting Through and New Prospects designed for S1, S2 and S3 Respectively. To realize our research,both quantitative and qualitative analysis were performed. Through content anlysis (CA) and critical discourse analysis (CDA) the results obtained have displayed that the textbooks in question are far from being bias-free with regards to all the aspects selected for evaluation. It has been found that there is a significant tendency to underrepresent females, ethnic groups and elders. The invisibility of these characters is recorded both in text and illustrations. The findings further show some stereotypes especially concerning the aspects of occupations and personal traits. Additionally,both quantitative and qualitaive analysis have confirmed the presence of these forms of bias (selectivity, fragmentation, unreality, cosmetic bias). As far as linguistic bias is concerned, it has been observed that the authors of the textbooks have been sensitive in their use of language in the portrayal of ethnic groups and elders. Furthermore, there is a remarkable tendency to use an inclusive and neutral language in the description of both genders. On the basis of these findings ,we come to the conclusion that that authors of the textbooks were not guided by specific checklists that would prevent the production of biased instructional materials. Hence, it is highly recommended for the Algerian Ministry of Education to elaborate checklists for identifying bias,because, besides the overt role schools play on students ‘mental development, there is also an implicit and “covert message” that the school endorses to students.
Textbooks evaluation, gender, race, generation, ageism, bias, stereotypes, content analysis, critical discourse analysis, hidden curriculum, socialization