War is a pervasive theme repeated in almost all school literature – an analysis of textbooks from the occupied territories
20 grand narratives were identified during the investigation of 23 textbooks for elementary to high school seized by the Kharkiv Prosecutor’s Office after the de-occupation of the Kharkiv region. These are, in particular, primary, middle, and high school textbooks—the alphabet, textbooks on literature, geography, world history, and Russian history. Among the narratives are the following: “the Russian ethnos and its culture are your homelands,” the narrative of “confrontation between the collective West, NATO, the United States and Russia”, etc.
It was discussed during the presentation of a study on education in the occupied territories at the Media Center Ukraine – Ukrinform.
According to Valentina Potapova, Head of the Direction of the National Advocacy Department of the Almenda Center for Civic Education, the analysis identified narratives in clusters, including the formation of an all-Russian identity, militarization, and heroization, a whole bunch of tools is propaganda dedicated to shaping a positive attitude towards the government.
“Indeed, almost all school literature depicts the war theme, and I really hoped that literature textbooks would give me something about spirituality. But no—it’s all about war. There are even separate sections called “Literature about Courage” and “Literature about War.” Geography textbooks present much information about how Russia annexed other peoples and other territories to its territory. It’s also about war,” explained Potapova.
She noted that during the analysis of how Ukraine is presented in textbooks, it was found that Ukraine as a subject is not there.
Valentina Potapova notes that after two months of working with these textbooks, even an adult with well-developed critical thinking can be influenced by these narratives.
“And when you are a child who still lives in the information bubble, you fall under the influence of these propaganda narratives faster. And it won’t be easy to get these children out of these narratives. And then such a ‘multitask person’ formed, who has to serve ‘his country’ by taking up arms. This is a very brief conclusion that can be drawn from the analysis of 23 textbooks,” she explained.
Valentina Potapova notes that the study has made a psychological and pedagogical conclusion about what manipulative technologies are embedded in these textbooks. In the future, she emphasized, it is necessary that psychologists in Ukraine also familiarize themselves with these textbooks and draw their own conclusions for further work after the de-occupation of Ukraine’s territories.
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