Textbook – Object and Instrument of Manipulation (on Example of Textbook for Children in Early Education)

Article Polish OPEN
Pawlak, Bożena (2016)
  • Publisher: Edukacja Elementarna w Teorii i Praktyce
  • Journal: Elementary Education in Theory and Practice (issn: 2353-7787, eissn: 1896-2327)
  • Related identifiers: doi: 10.14632/eetp_38.3
  • Subject: textbook; children; manipulation; Ministry of Education; scientists | pedagogika | podręcznik; dziecko; manipulacja; ministerstwo edukacji; naukowcy

For many years, textbooks have been a source of much controversy, but what has been unfolding in this area since the beginning of 2014 can quite fairly be described as a proper storm, or even a revolution. While scientists and pedagogical researchers have continued their discussions about the cultural and social norms relevant to children’s books (where these in turn are bound to prompt problematic discussions about meaning and value), the Ministry of Education has simply gone ahead and introduced a single textbook for children from Class I, which is apparently free, but obligatory for all of them. This has been created on the basis of vague and undefined conceptual assumptions, and in record time. Then, at the request of the Ministry, this same textbook has been subjected to a nationwide process of correction of the errors it contained, before being finally sent for printing – and this as if it marked a great triumph. How might one sum this up in a single word? For me, it is manipulation. This article aims to justify the following two main theses: that the above-mentioned textbook has become an object of manipulation (for both politicians and the media), and that it was, and is, a tool of manipulation (in the context of education and teaching). The term “manipulation”, of course, has many meanings. It is used in this article to refer to what goes on when someone is unknowingly targeting and exploited for specific purposes. We, and especially teachers and the parents of pupils, need to become aware of the possibility of being victims of this. On the other hand, scientific research into the usefulness of teaching materials in the education of children offers a chance for us to defend ourselves against such manipulation.
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