Racial, Sexual, and other Stereotypes in French school books.
Fripouille | February 21, 2009 at 09:42 amby
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They recently commissioned and published a report on stereotyping in French school books (in French). The study was carried out on a selection of twenty nine books on different subjects, and it concentrated on the 3097 photos and drawings contained in them, as well as their captions.
The results and conclusions make depressing reading.
The study shows that French schoolchildren are confronted daily by the kind of negative stereotyping which leads to homophobic, sexist and racial discrimination. The report’s conclusion states “ (The books) contain a good number of stereotyped images, whatever the discipline studied”. (My translation).
A few examples? Sure. (I’d say “Enjoy”, but I don’t think you will...)
Women and Girls.
They were almost systematically devalorised. Almost 75% of all images represented men. They were portrayed as doctors, company management personnel, sportsmen and other well-paid people. Women, when present, were often shown as being nurses or secretaries, for example.
Racial and Ethnic Origins.
Most images of racial minorities depicted them as being poor or living in public housing estates. There were many insidious inferences, such as a photo in a maths book showing two girls doing a geometry test. The girl who succeeds has a French name, and the failed pupil has an Arab name. A history book subject explaining the European Union’s reticence to allow Turkey to join carried a photo of a woman wearing a veil.
The Gay community.
Well, this was simple to evaluate, and that’s because only one photo (out of 3097, remember?) referred to the Gay community. It shows a Gay Pride day in Paris. It is small, and hidden away in a corner of a book on Economic and social science!! That speaks for itself.
People with physical disabilities.
There were 25 photos of handicapped people, and they mostly showed them as being ill (being cared for, in hospital etcetera) although there were one or two showing Paralympic Games Athletes. No photos showed them working or studying or otherwise participating in societal activities.
They were often associated with illness, physical degeneration, loneliness, and inactivity. Rare were the images demonstrating their experience of life or their role as citizens or their active participation in areas such as associative or charity work.
Etcetera etcetera etcetera..........
So there you have it, in condensed form. It’s an awful indictment of archaic practices that should have been thrown out a long time ago.
The report makes it clear that this is an unacceptable situation, and the Halde (in French) recommends that the Education Minister and the National Education Authorities introduce classes on discriminational stereotyping. They also recommend that publishers begin to publish works which illustrate modern society in a more realistic and up-to-date manner. They are going to repeat the study this year, but with added areas of study such as Trade Union activity and Religious convictions.
Let’s hope they see some improvement, because the existing state of affairs is quite simply appalling, and it clearly demonstrates that the standards applied by the French Education system on this issue are significantly inferior to those implemented by many other Western countries.
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