Question textbooks on heritage and gender

Archive image of students in a classroom at the ULPGC. / Juan Carlos Alonso

They point out that "the old narratives" still prevail in this material

EFE Holy Cross of La Palma

A study of
University of La Laguna warns that despite the fact that cultural heritage and gender discourse appear in the official curriculum as content to be worked on in the
Obligatory education,
in textbooks “the old narratives” still prevail about these matters.

A team made up of professors from the Department of Specific Didactics of the University of La Laguna, the Area of ​​Didactics of Social Sciences, and the Department of Sociology, have developed this research project to study the didactic treatment that heritage education and gender receive in the Social Sciences and Geography and History textbooks.

For these researchers, the
heritage education and the
gender equality they must be taught from formal education, as proposed in the primary and secondary curricula and they regret that the proposals embodied in the different Spanish educational laws, developed since the 1990s, have not prevented them from continuing to prevail even today "The old narratives about heritage and gender".

The research led by the University of La Laguna shows that, despite the fact that cultural heritage and gender discourse appear in the official curriculum as content to be worked on in compulsory education, in order to foster a critical understanding of the social reality and cultural, the truth is that, in practice and based on textbooks, these contents differ with respect to what students learn and what it would be desirable for them to learn.

José Farrujia de la Rosa, principal investigator of the project and coordinator of the volume «Cultural heritage, gender and education» (Octaedro, 2022) in which the results of this study are collected, the contents that are worked on in the textbooks do not allow that students understand and value the immediate heritage.

"Students do not acquire skills related to awareness and cultural expressions, since heritage is addressed at specific times, with the aim of illustrating certain theoretical content or to carry out some recreational-educational activity," Farrujia said in a statement.

It indicates that cultural heritage is not an educational objective but a content that is treated from an academic perspective, in which the historical-artistic character prevails and the reflection of students on its conservation is minimized.

He adds that in the specific case of the Canary Islands, the contents that are worked on make it difficult for the students to feel the heritage as something of their own and he specifies that, in addition, islands such as Lanzarote, Fuerteventura, La Gomera or El Hierro are practically not represented in the textbooks compared to the capital islands, Tenerife and Gran Canaria, which hold all the protagonism.

Depending on the island in which they live, students may or may not establish identity relationships with their immediate environment, from the patrimonial point of view. asserts Farrujia, who insists that this discourse does not allow students to develop an identity related to the regional historical evolution.

It also understands that education in compulsory education focuses, mainly, on the cultural achievements of great civilizations such as Greece, Rome and Egypt, as well as on the artistic manifestations of great creators such as Velázquez, Picasso, or Goya and stresses that
intangible, indigenous or ethnographic heritage are “underrepresented”.

In his opinion, this greatly conditions the behavior of students, in the medium and long term, as citizens, since heritage should favor a critical understanding of the social and cultural reality of the world that surrounds students.

In the case of gender discourse, the results of the project reflect the survival of an androcentric history, in which women continue to play a secondary role in the future and historical discourses and in educational content.

She adds that the activities that are proposed in the textbooks do not encourage critical reflection on the part of the students, as far as the role of women is concerned.

Farrujia indicates that the
inclusive language is not present, the generic masculine is the one that is represented in the primary and secondary textbooks and also questions the images that illustrate the books that do not seem to be the most suitable to avoid androcentric reading either.

The book published with the results of the project has seven chapters in which professors from five different universities participate (University of Barcelona, ​​University of Huelva, University of Murcia, Autonomous University of Barcelona and University of Valencia) that are part of the main research groups in the field of research on textbooks, in particular, on the subject of cultural heritage and gender.

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