A Critical Approach to History Textbook Images


  • Pranitha Bharath University Of KwaZulu-Natal




Textbooks, Images, Content Analysis, Historical Images, Sources


The use of textbooks as critical learning and teaching resources is reinforced in South Africa by the Department of Education’s Revised Annual Teaching Plans for Social Sciences, Term One. In Week One of Grade 6, the 2021 plan states that each learner must receive a Social Studies textbook and be taught the importance of taking care of them (DoE, 2021, p. 1), reinforcing the status of the textbook as an authority on history content and learning.  Consequently, research into history textbooks is important. This study produced data about some textbook images which could potentially challenge learner’s ability to construct historical narratives and to think historically.  This challenge lies in the way in which these images are used as they form part of the repertoire of historical evidence. Through different time periods we have seen how images and photographs have recorded the past. While images are used to assist leaners understand the past, not all the images are historical evidence. Some are presented as real but are actually drawings of an event, artefact or person.  Textbook authors do not distinguish clearly between what is real or not, with some scenes ‘staged’ to create a sense of reality for understanding. The general audience or readership may be under the impression that all the contents of a history textbook are authentic but there should be an awareness of these tendencies.  Teachers then know how to move learners when the images are unclear or unsupported in their contexts. Proper captioning and provenance is strongly recommended so that images which are evidence can be classified as historical sources and not just generic representations of the past. 



How to Cite

Bharath, P. (2022). A Critical Approach to History Textbook Images. Annals of Social Studies Education Research for Teachers, 3(2), 48–56. https://doi.org/10.29173/assert43