Literature education: Reading Lesson or Life Lesson?

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This thesis aimed to find out the preferences, perceptions and practices of first-degree English teachers regarding the integration of literature education as a tool for citizenship education. As of 2021, the Netherlands has taken on a law that obligates schools to explicitly shape their curriculum to educate students about citizenship. How teachers of subjects such as English should incorporate citizenship education into their lessons, was not disclosed in the legal assignment. Therefore, teachers are dependent on their schools, their departments and their own input. Through a questionnaire and focus group interview, this thesis collected data from sixty firstdegree English teachers. It concludes that teachers have a preference for literature lessons to teach students culture and history, but that this is often impossible in practice, due to departmental or school agreements and time constraints. Despite challenges in the curriculum, participants acknowledge the potential for literature to teach empathy, critical thinking, selfawareness and awareness of the perspective of others and therefore its potential to function as a tool citizenship education. Participants indicate that curriculum changes tailored to a school’s operating areas, teacher training, and clear guidelines are needed for citizenship to be successfully implemented into literature education and to effectively align with the legal assignment of 2021. Key words: citizenship education, literature education, first-degree teachers, English, modern foreign languages, Common European Framework of Reference, end terms
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