Equal education, unequal identities: children’s construction of identities and Taiwanese nationalism in education
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Children have been marginalised in nationalism studies, particularly in the discussion of education. The process of education was taken for granted while children’s agency and their construction of national discourses were neglected. This thesis was to examine and compare children’s national discourses and those in pedagogical materials in the context of recent Taiwanese nationalism since 2000. This thesis concerned children’s discourses and pedagogical discourses in four areas: (1) the nation; (2) national identity; (3) ethnicity; and (4) being a minority. Data was collected through individual interviews, documentary research and observations. Individual interviews were conducted with a sample of 28 primary school children (aged 8-11) in a selected primary school in Taiwan. The participants were recruited from children of Chinese immigrants, children of Vietnamese immigrants, and children of native Taiwanese to compare their various experiences and perspectives. The findings showed that children’s discourses did not necessarily correspond to pedagogical discourses although they partly match to each other. The nation was portrayed as ‘Taiwan’ consistently in the textbooks and by children, while the ‘Republic of China’ was being ‘forgotten’ by children and marginalised in textbooks. In addition, a Taiwanese identity is prevailing among children. However, children challenged the existing concepts of ethnicity and the language policy at school. Finally, this thesis found that the national discourses in pedagogy was rather exclusive than inclusive. Therefore, the minority groups, such as children of immigrants, Hakka, and the Aborigines, felt being the ‘others’ in the discourses of Taiwanese nationalism. In conclusion, children are not objects of pedagogical national discourses. Instead, the pedagogical discourses rely on students’ interpretation and performance. Therefore, children are active subjects who are able to challenge pedagogical discourses and construct their own national discourses.