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ERIC Number: EJ890630
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2008-Jun
Pages: 16
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 22
ISSN: ISSN-2077-2327
Human Evolution in Science Textbooks from Twelve Different Countries
Quessada, Marie-Pierre; Clement, Pierre; Oerke, Britta; Valente, Adriana
Science Education International, v19 n2 p147-162 Jun 2008
What kinds of images of human beings illustrate human evolution in school textbooks? A comparison between the textbooks of eighteen different countries (twelve European countries and six non-European countries) was attempted. In six countries (Algeria, Malta, Morocco, Mozambique, Portugal, and Tunisia), we did not find any chapter on the topic of human evolution in the textbooks consulted. When analysing all the images in the human evolution chapters in the 30 textbooks from the other twelve countries, we found that the great majority of these images show adult males, few images show females (one female for every four males), very few show children (one child for every nine adults), few images show ethnic diversity (one image with ethnic diversity for every eight images without ethnic diversity). When analyzing the images of timelines or trees depicting human evolution, we found in all the chapters on biological evolution the representation of "Homo sapiens", who was found in 28 textbooks from twelve different countries. "Homo sapiens" is nearly always an archetype of a male with white skin, either naked or dressed in occidental clothing. Only in four cases, there was also a woman (and never a woman alone), such as in a Lithuanian textbook as well as in a French one, an Italian one, and a German one. This last German image is a unique one where ethnic diversity was illustrated by three people. These results show that scientific messages related to the origins of humankind are generally mixed with implicit values. It is important to identify these values, whilst teaching this topic, in order to favour the ability of students to develop a critical outlook for better citizenship. (Contains 11 figures and 1 footnote.)
International Council of Associations for Science Education. Dokuz Eylul University Faculty of Education, Buca, Izmir 35150, Turkey. Tel: +90-532-4267927; Fax: +90-232-4204895; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: Elementary Secondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Algeria; Lebanon; Morocco; Mozambique; Senegal; Tunisia