n Mousaion - National identity and the perspective of the other : New Zealand children responding to South African picture books

Volume 32, Issue 4
  • ISSN : 0027-2639



The issue of national identity is a central concern for learners both in terms of formal education (social studies) and personal pleasure (sports). This study adopted a theoretical model of how national identity can be envisaged by middle school learners, and through an intensive week's case study, demonstrated both the strengths and potential problems of using picture books as a source of information about a nation state. Having self-reflected on their own sense of national identity, a class from a provincial town in New Zealand (NZ) were given the opportunity to explore over 85 educational readers/trade picture book titles sourced from South Africa (SA) (plus other texts from Africa that were locally available) and attempt to define what it is to be a South African. Prior knowledge was factored in the findings and the results were compared to a South African class's perceptions using the same theoretical model. This article draws a tentative conclusion as to the presences and absences of which South African national identity features can be located whilst reading the two types of fictional texts. Additionally the article proposes that the methodology can be replicated in the classroom in the context of learning as inquiry.

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