How do two afrikaans textbooks for learners in grade 4 and grade 7 construct child?
We live in a post apartheid society which has created new possibilities for identity formation. Within education, identity construction has been under investigation. This study explores the relationship between visual imagery and the construction of child. It examines through different social categories what identity positions are available to the child. The research analysed two different Afrikaans textbooks: Grade 4 and Grade 7 to determine if post apartheid we have moved beyond our common sense perceptions based on race, gender and geographical location. The research looks at apartheid identities and tries to discover if the construction of child is still part of this old identity. In order to uncover such identities, many images were analysed. Identities in this project is understood through postructuralist theory on identity which argues that identities are hybrid and dynamic and are not fixed or essentialized as was often the case during the apartheid period. Child and images form an essential part of this research project. The notion of child is not only analysed through social categories but through how visual imagery can construct a learner as visually competent and how images can create lessons that includes the child being actively involved and is given a space to inquire about ideas and social issues. The work of Philosophy for Children provides an interesting construction of child and how images in Philosophy for Children picturebooks can contribute to how we select visual imagery for children to learn from. The analysis makes the reader aware of identities and how they are constructed historically and in relation to the socio-political context. There is evidence in the textbooks that past discourses linger and that the images found in the textbooks struggle to problematize the past issues of the country. How child is constructed in South Africa, intellectually and emotionally, still seems to be stuck on old traditional theories of child and therefore child does not have complete room to grow. Images used for children to learn from are mostly denotative leaving little room for imaginative or creative engagement. Ultimately the analysis calls for a reconsideration of the kinds of visuals are used to teach children, which in turn have influences on how we construct child.
A thesis submitted to the Faculty of Humanities, University of the Witwatersrand, in fulfilment of requirements of Masters in Education – Course work. Johannesburg, 2014