Textbook criticism

Secondary school textbook publishers answer criticism

Michael Sandelson
The Foreigner

Jena Habegger-Conti, associate professor of English literature at the University of Stavanger has found disparities between lower secondary school level books and the national curriculum’s aims of teaching respect for other cultures. Oslo and Akershus University College Rector Curt Rice calls some of the terminology in them “deeply offensive.”

The Foreigner has received answers from publishers Fagbokforlaget and Cappelen Damm.

The Foreigner: What are your selection criteria for the books’ images?

Trond Petter Hinrichsen, Fagbokforlaget publishing director: We have in-house picture editors, and use Scanpix and many other picture agencies… There are many considerations that we make when choosing the pictures.

Espen Skovdahl, acting head of Cappelen Damm Academic Publishing: Our selection criteria starts with the texts, and possibly visual works of art, that we choose to include in each chapter/topic. The photos, and other visual elements, are chosen based on the texts.

TF: Who writes the books?

TPH: Some of the authors teach in secondary schools, universities, and colleges… The authors are highly-educated people with a lot of experience.

ES: We usually have a team of two to four authors working on a subject, such as English for Lower Secondary School, together with the editor in charge of the specific “project.” The authors are most often trained teachers… We also usually have academic professionals and researchers from universities as part of the group or as consultants.

TF: What do you say about the criticism?

TPH: We take it very seriously and are happy when people bring things that can be corrected to our attention. This particular series of books is 10 years old, of course, having been published in 2006 when the curriculum was updated last.

ES: We take note of the criticism and appreciate all studies that evaluate our textbooks. We will take any critical examination of our books into consideration when we revise or make new English textbooks.

TF: When are revisions of the current books in question going to be made?

TPH: When the new books are published depends on current curriculum development work being undertaken by the government… Of course, we’ll be more aware of the terminology that is used in our future ones.

ES: There will not be a revision of New Flight, as we are currently in the process of making completely new textbooks, Connect, and other learning materials for the age group 13-16. In our new material, we will of course take note of the criticism in the study.

Fagbokforlaget’s Trond Petter Hinrichsen adds that “schools can either pick these new publications, or keep to the old ones. Developing a book can take years, what with writing, editing, amending, etc.”

This article was originally published on The Foreigner. To subscribe to The Foreigner, visit theforeigner.no.

It also appeared in the June 3, 2016, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.

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