Images of Water in School Textbooks: A Content Analysis



Education as a social process is under the influence of the society, its institutions and the environment that it operates in. Schools as a part of the social structure shape students both attitudes and behavior and reflect the society's values. Students’ socialization is heavily influenced by their family, neighborhoods, and schools including teachers and textbooks. School textbooks are an important source for socialization in the process of learning during the course of schooling for children aged between 6 to 18 years old. This age group is including population of over 15 million boys and girls in Iran. These are a reflection of the culture, knowledge and values considered important by authorities in society. Iran, like other Middle Eastern societies, is facing higher population and water resources shortage in the future. Therefore, the impact of environmental images or knowledge about the resources and predicted risk would worth to be studied. The purpose of this paper is to show the way school textbooks shape Iranian kids attitudes towards the word or concept of water in terms of natural resources or water consumption. This study analyzed the presentation of concept of water in Iranian school textbooks. Some 82 school textbooks were investigated by utilizing content analysis method. Content analyses of the 11 different subjects showed that there were significant differences among science, humanities and social science books in terms of structure and social values. The study examined school textbooks used in grades 1 through 11 published 1984 by the Ministry of Education. The study revealed an interesting finding that about two percent of total content devoted to water related issues under 20 different categories, but less than 0.05 percent related to the way of consumptions or quality of healthy water. The images of water portrayed here, show the richness of natural resources including sea, rivers and the level of rain or snow for different parts of the country or the world. In contrast, data from WRI indicate that in the next two decades sanitation, healthy water and drought would be the major challenge for the people who are living in some part of the world including the Middle East and Central Asian regions. Results implied important directions for educational administrators and policy makers in the preparation and use of right educational content to support the environmental cause.