Full text: Die Familie im Schulbuch

The term „family* 
The term „family* has a broader range than expected in our textbooks. „Family" may be a 
relevant term when it comes to Shedding light on sSimilarities between group entities, 1i.e. 
linguistic families." My point by making this analogy is to draw attention to the idea of 
Similarity and inclusion. „Family may in other words be Sensed as a unity which is able 
to protect, collate and keep within a framework. Breaking the bounds of a family may 
therefore be experienced as dramatic and is to a great extent viewed negatively. On the 
other hand, young people can experience too strict ties within a family, like being trap- 
ped. How the idea of family is dealt with in today's textbooks is the isSue of this article. I 
will approach the Subject by giving examples from two School Subjects, i.e. mathematics 
and history/ Social Science, two Subjects that differ with regard to the concept of „family 
and „families. 
The Subject mathematics has been chosen due to the fact that the exercises in text- 
books of mathematics often implicitly reveal attitudes and views connected to the institu- 
tion of family. I have examined over 20 different textbooks in this Subject with a Special 
focus on the exercises. Other Sections of the textbooks characterised by the textual types 
Such as instruction and explanation (Werlich 1975, 1976) have been equally analysed, 
but it is evident that the Sections mainly containing exercises are the most interesting. In 
the various exercises behind the textual Surface the emergence of presumptions and 
conventions related to the institution of family comes to light. In one book only one 
drawing of a nuclear family is Shown; in another a photo is Showing the Same, and this 
tells us that we, i.e. the authors of the textbook and the potential users, teachers and 
Students, are expected to Share the conventional view of a family in the Western he- 
misphere consisting of the parents and two children. When pictures and drawings like 
this are not commented on, we may See them as “implicit meanings?; they are looming in 
the background, but do not emerge clearly in the textual Surface. Such a picture and 
pattern may offer inclusion of a number of students in today's classrooms, but will si- 
multaneously exclude groups of students with, for instance, multicultural backgrounds, 
Students living in one-parent-families and Students living within a family with parents of 
the Same Sex. Not to Speak of Students experiencing the fate of being brought up with no 
closer relations, i.e. Students living with distant relatives or with officially appointed 
persons of care. 
Another reason to choose a Subject like mathematics is the presumption that Such a 
Subject does not deal with institutional questions. You Should approach Subjects like 
For instance, is the word „family* discussed on more than five compact pages in Encyclopedia of Social 
and Cultural Anthropology (Barnard & Spencer 2005 [1996]). However, the encyclopedia states that 
»„Family" is one of the words most commonly used in anthropological writings and discussions, and yet its 
meaning is neither always clear nor a matter of consensus" (p. 223). 
In Implicit Meanings the essays written by the anthropologist Mary Douglas probe beneath the Surface 
meanings and Seek to expose the implicit understandings which tend to be taken as unchallengeable 
(Douglas 1999 [1975]). These understandings may also be reflected upon when it comes to the use of the 
term „family" in textbooks. The term is frequently dealt with implicitly, i.e. the content of the term is not 
discussed, but taken for granted. 


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