Title: Whose Culture? Exploring Multiculturalism Through Ministry-approved Children’s Literature in the Republic of Croatia
Stream: Challenging & Preserving: Culture, Inter/Multiculturalism & Language
Presentation Type: Live-Stream Presentation
Matea Butkovic, University of Rijeka, Croatia
This research aims to explore how the mandatory children’s literature, prescribed by the Ministry of Science and Education and covered within the school subject ”Croatian Language,” depicts Croatian cultural heterogeneity and global cultural diversity and whether it offers examples of vocabulary that would assist elementary school students in engaging in critical analyses about human-rights topics as part of the national agenda to implement the intercultural dimension of formal education. For the purpose of this research, an analysis of the representation of cultural diversity was carried out on two levels: with regards to the choice of authors and the content of 21 works of fiction included in the latest Croatian Language Curriculum (2019). The obtained findings reveal a profound discrepancy between the objectives of intercultural education, as outlined in three relevant educational documents (National Curriculum Framework (2010), Curriculum for Elementary Schools (2006), and Croatian Language Curriculum (2019)), and the cultural values and messages being promoted in the selected literary content. The conducted analyses reveal that the Ministry-assigned authors (white, European, and predominately Croatian) create white, Christian, and European (usually Croatian) characters, whereby the focus lies on characters representing the majority Croatian population and culture, while the national ethnic minorities remain virtually completely omitted. Furthermore, global cultural diversity remains reduced to trivial geographical information and stereotypical descriptions. The findings of this research provide the first wholesome insight into multicultural content and implicit messages found in children’s literature that has been selected as mandatory for all Croatian elementary school students.