Full text: Das Schulbuch zwischen Lehrplan und Unterrichtspraxis

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My analysis of the material is based on a close reading of the sections of textbooks 
selected on the grounds stated above. Comparison across time and across countries in- 
ductively makes some of the differences between textbooks obvious. In this presentation, 
I focus on differences in the conceptualization of various historical actors. I use indica- 
tors such as the visual characteristics of the texts, for example, the presence of diagrams 
illustrating a systemic aspect of social interactions or, conversely, the inclusion of indi- 
vidual portraits suggesting an emphasis on individual agency. Other indicators include 
grammatical patterns (active versus passive voice), the foci of study questions offered in 
the presentations, and the subject of section headings. At one extreme end of the contin- 
uum describing these conceptualizations of historical agency could be historical narra- 
tives representing a „great men” view of history, while portrayals of self-interested col- 
lective agents vying for power over developments could be the other extreme end of this 
Portrayals of the Nation in East German Educational Materials 
For the duration of the existence of the GDR, curricula maintained their commitment to 
historical materialism. They espoused this commitment both explicitly, in preambles and 
mission statements, as well as implicitly, in the selection and portrayal of specific his- 
torical episodes. Given the self-consciously ideological nature of East German history 
education, curriculum preambles were quite explicit in framing history education in 
terms of the construction of the socialist nation. ( 
Following Marxist conceptions of history, the curriculum was divided into periods 
strictly according to the causal preeminence of class struggles for dynamic elements of 
human history. Courses thus were divided into four units: prehistory and antiquity, Mid- 
die Ages, early capitalist society and late capitalist society. This periodization was justi- 
fied entirely in terms of the relations of production representing the progression from 
hunting and gathering societies, to slave-holding societies, to feudalism, capitalism and 
finally, in later curricula, socialism. 
Measured by the proportion of memorization dates drawn from recent history, mod- 
ernity gained in prominence in the historical narrative presented by the curricula. The 
period of the modern German nation-state since 1871 contributed only a fifth of the 
memorization dates included in the 1946 curriculum, but this share rose to 60 per cent by 
the late 1980s. Although much of this rise can be attributed to dates drawn from very 
recent history, early modern periods also contributed an increasing share of the memori- 
zation dates. The dates drawn from the period 1871-1945 thus increased from 20 per 
cent in the 1946 curriculum to 33 per cent in 1951 and 36 per cent in 1988. 
The listing of dates for memorization offers information about the centrality of the 
German nation in historical narratives. A shifting proportion of dates drawn from explic- 
itly German historical events suggests the increasing emphasis of German history over 
more general historical developments. The proportion of dates from German history 
Shifted from roughly one half to close to two thirds of all dates included. Taking this 
shift as a proxy for general trends in the curricula, later curricula and particularly the last 

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