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TitleGenetic determinism in school textbooks : a comparative study conducted among sixteen countries
Author(s)Castéra, Jérémy
Clément, Pierre
Abrougui, Mondher
Sarapuu, Tago
Turcinaviciene, Jurga
Agorram, Boujemaa
Calado, Florbela
Nisiforou, Olympia
Valanides, Nicos
Carvalho, Graça Simões de
KeywordsHuman genetics
School textbooks
Issue dateJun-2008
PublisherInternational Council of Associations for Science Education (ICASE)
JournalScience Education International
Citation"Science Education International". ISSN 1450-104X. 19:2 (June 2008)163-184.
Abstract(s)Genetic concepts have significantly evolved over the last ten years, and are now less connected to innate ideas and reductionism. Unique reference to genetic determinism has been replaced by the interaction between the genes and their environment (epigenetics). Our analyses relating to how current school biology textbooks present this new paradigm in 16 different countries (12 from Europe and Tunisia, Morocco, Senegal, and Lebanon). Two precise criteria were used to analyse and compare the chapters dealing with the topic Human Genetics. The first criterion is the occurrence of the expression "genetic program" (which is typical of innate values). This is present in some countries but totally missing in some others. The existing differences seem to support the following: (i) in Eastern European countries, the absence is long-standing, and it is possibly linked to a previous influence of Lyssenko, (ii) in some other countries, the absence could be linked to various reactions during the Nazi period, (iii) in other cases, the observed diminution might be due to a modernisation of the scientific content, and, finally, (iv) in several countries, the notion of "genetic program" is still present, without any attempt for change. In contrast, there were no differences between countries with relation to the second criterion, that is, the twins’ pictures present in the textbooks. The monozygotic twins are always dressed identically and have the same hairstyle and body posture, as if these features could be genetically determined, providing thus evidence of a persistent implicit deterministic ideology. These results are discussed as interactions between implicit values and taught scientific knowledge.
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Appears in Collections:CIEC - Artigos (Papers)
DCILM - Artigos (Papers)

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