Looking Beyond the Surface: The Politics of Two Grade Ten History Textbooks in Ontario
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The study of history has always been very significant to me. My early and most vivid exposure to the subject occured when I was in grade ten. At the time, I felt that a part of me was disconnected from the content we were taught. I was not able to identify myself with the history narrated in the textbooks. I began to examine history from a critical perspective, and thought about whose history was being taught. Textbooks play a powerful role in the way students understand history and in their cultural and political formation. This study is theoretically framed by critical race theory and post-colonial theory. I compared two ministry approved grade ten history textbooks published under two different governments to examine how the history of non-white minority groups has been represented and integrated into the narrative of the textbooks. I investigated the representation of Black Canadians, Chinese Canadians, Japanese Canadians, Vietnamese Canadians, and South Asian Canadians. Furthermore, I analyzed how the government's educational objectives and their differing agendas intersected with the content in the textbooks. Overall I found that the minority groups I studied were marginalized in the first textbook I looked at, however in the second textbook they were provided much wider representation.