How do the German and Dutch Curriculum Contexts influence (the Use of) Geography Textbooks?


  • Uwe KRAUSE Fontys University of Applied Sciences, Tilburg, THE NETHERLANDS
  • Tine BÉNEKER, Jan VAN TARTWIJK Utrecht University, Utrecht, THE NETHERLANDS
  • Anke UHLENWINKEL Alpen-Adria Universität, Klagenfurt, AUSTRIA
  • Sanneke BOLHUIS Fontys University of Applied Sciences, Tilburg, THE NETHERLANDS


Curriculum, Framing, Textbooks, Geography Education, International Comparison, Netherlands, Germany


Bernstein describes a curriculum context as a system context that is regulated by strong and weak framing, which refers to the “degree of control teachers and pupils possess over the selection, organisation, pacing and timing of the knowledge transmitted and received in the pedagogical relationship” (1975, p. 89). In this article, we describe research on how differences in framing influence the design of geography textbooks and lessons in higher secondary schools (ages 16-18). In a comparative case study, we analysed geography textbooks, observed lessons, and interviewed editors and teachers in a country with weak framing (Germany) and a country with strong framing (the Netherlands). The results show that weaker framing goes hand in hand with textbooks focussing on knowledge and offering higher-order tasks. In the country with weaker framing, teachers use more question and answer teaching strategies, students deliver more presentations, and more assignments are used that are aimed at practising higher-order cognitive skills. Interviews carried out with teachers in both countries underline the fact that stronger framing of the curriculum can cause stress and has a strong impact on the teaching practice. This explains the different teaching patterns in both countries, despite similar teaching orientations.