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Identity, School Textbooks, and Rebuilding Memory

Official school textbooks provide rich sources of material on the greater social effects of schooling. Textbooks provide the official knowledge a society wants its children to acquire—facts, figures, dates, and seminal events. They also frame the facts, figures, dates, and events in larger, though generally implicit, narratives that describe how things were, what happened, and how they came to be the way they are now. A group's representation of its past is often intimately connected with its identity—who “we” are (and who we are not) as well as who “they” are. These narratives provide a story line that helps students make sense of the particular facts, figures, and dates, but perhaps more importantly, convey the communities, often singular and national, to which the child is ...

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