Implied Gender and Cultural Nuances in Young Children’s Responses to Textbook Images
This research explores the initial school going children’s approaches to the textbook images and their gender attitude. A total six participants studying in Grade One in one of the private schools of Kailali District, Far Western Province participated in this research. Keeping the young age of children in mind, the data was collected using activity-based interview methods. The participants took part in drawing a cover image for one of their mandatory textbooks, selected their favourite action image from their textbooks, described the real cover images, their designed covers, and their favourite action images. This research underpins social semiotic theory (Kress and Van Leeuwen, 2006) and visual/verbal discourse analysis (Rose, 2016) as a method to probing data. The results indicated that children were more expressive about the represented things in the images. They identified and represented non-human and human characters in images. Among six participants, four made common objects like houses, flowers, and trees, two of them made unique abstract images and geometrical shapes in their represented cover images for Science and Mathematics textbook. Some other varieties of objects made by the participants in their cover design were balloons, human figures, flags, sun, etc. It was found that all the children’s cover designs were influenced by the images they had encountered in textbooks and shared some similarities. Their attitude toward male and female characters and their drawing contents like the shape of the houses, flowers in the front yard, and flags were also motivated by their social cultural background. Moreover, the participants reflected Self-gender preferences and gender stereotypes in the characters and activities depicted in their favourite action images, in their attitudes regarding the cloths and hair length of the male and female characters in the images, and gender roles. It was noticed that limited semiotic resources made young, aged participants verbally and visually less expressive, so they utilised gestures, pauses, and repetition of the words during interview. This research has tried to build scholarships around school education and gender internalisation through young students’ image readings. An extensive research using more participants is recommended for generalisation.
Key words: social semiotics, visual discourse, textbooks, images
Kress, G., & Van Leeuwen, T. (2006). Visual interaction. The discourse reader, 2.
Rose, G. (2016). Visual methodologies: An introduction to researching with visual methods. In: London: Sage.