Full text: Schulbuchforschung in Europa - Bestandsaufnahme und Zukunftsperspektive

3) Comprehensive level: 
Eventually one has to question the deeper meaning of the source(s), the hidden mes- 
sage behind the text or image. Important here are the mental background, the percep- 
tion of man and society and the dominant world view. 
These are the foundations of the Maerlant concept. This structure offers a framework for 
the 'reading' (in its broadest sense, which may also imply a close observation of a visual 
or material source) of almost all historical sources. 
The Maerlant project resulted in a multimedia cd-rom with four dossiers each containing 
historical sources covering an exemplary topic representative of the concept of power in 
late medieval society: written sources and a material source on the Battle of the Golden 
Spurs at Courtrai (1302), a written source on the balance of economic and political 
power in late medieval Bruges (1280: Klacht van het Brugse gemeen) and a visual 
source on the reign of Philip the Good of Burgundy (ca. 1430: Presentatieminiatuur). 
Although you can not say that there exists an 'easier' and a 'more difficult' learning 
route, a distinction in degree of complexity can be made on two levels: the level of the 
dossiers and the level of supervision by the teacher. The dossier Klacht van het Brugse 
gemeen (Complaint of the people of Bruges) is more difficult than the dossier Presenta- 
tieminiatuur (presentation miniature), due to the type of the source (a text versus a 
miniature) and to the definition of the problem. The dossier on the Battle of the Golden 
Spurs also starts from two written sources, but the fact that the pupils can compare both 
sources makes it easier to understand the idea that there exist different points of view 
concerning this conflict. Besides the teacher can make a selection in the material offered, 
depending on the level ofthe class group. 
Three of the four dossiers were tested in ten classes of four different secondary 
schools. The first series of lessons were organised during October 1998. A second 
evaluation took place in March 1999. The resulting data were gathered in the following 
ways: by collating the answers the pupils formulated in their assignments relating to the 
content of the cd-rom, on the basis of evaluation forms the pupils had to fill in at the end 
of each session, observation by the project developers and a permanent dialogue between 
scientific collaborators and the teachers who presented the lessons. 
The disposition of the classroom turned out to be an important factor in making the 
lessons a success. The pupils had to work in pairs behind one screen and needed enough 
space to concentrate on the rather complicated reading tasks. The fact that they had to 
work together with a peer turned out to be very effective. On the other hand, placing 
more than two pupils behind one computer was not quite so successful. 
Practical skills did not necessarily guarantee a rational approach to the program's con- 
tent. Students regularly concluded that they had not yet finished reading when they were 
confronted with the questions they had to answer. For these group of pupils this method 
seems to encourage a more superficial way of working through information. In a way 
this is also what the program is after at the first stage. Later, however, the reader must 


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