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Children absorb all the information around them, mimic observed behaviors, and perceive the world based on how they are taught it from an early age.
For that reason, a diverse literature curriculum can be more important than one may think.
Moving to Luxembourg from Moldova, I noticed differences in how women were discussed in literature class and how ideas that literary tropes fed into were explained. The national curriculum for Romanian literature in Moldova widely promotes patriarchal ideas, with the vast majority of texts studied in grades 10-12 in 2020 having been written by men. (Custatevici et al., 2020). Women writers are rarely, if ever, showcased in the national syllabus, although they have always existed. If, throughout their whole education, children always refer back to one-sided perspective novels, they will end up developing a very bigoted mindset.
The novel "Ion" by Liviu Rebreanu, written in 1920 and taught in most Moldovan high schools (Custatevici et al., 2020) is about a woman, Ana, who is a victim of domestic abuse through being beaten by both her father and husband. Passages as such can have an emotional impact on students, especially as teachers justify violence against women as a standard of that time without elaborating on its harm. It is difficult for young girls to feel equal in a society where some teachers agree with the persistent traditional gender roles and where textbooks compare similar literary works to "the absolute definition of beauty" (Min. Educaţiei al Rep. Moldova. et al., 2014). The presence of traditional gender roles in literature is important in order to understand how society changes with the evolution of time. However, instead of perpetuating institutionalized sexism, Moldovan teachers should provide an analysis of literary works that contain abusive behavior. The educational system could benefit from writers such as Anița Nandriș-Cudla, Simona Gușu, or Viorica Răduța, who explore human nature through topics like social criticism, childhood reflections, or the hardships of survival.
My experience with this aspect of the Luxembourgish educational system is different. We discuss the historical significance of novels and authors, for instance the civil rights movement or the Salem witch trials. The theme of our 9th-grade English literature curriculum was "Transgressive Women", where we explored gender intersectionality in writing. We learned that women, such as George Eliot, had to disguise themselves as men to legally publish their writing. Moreover, we studied women's portrayal in men’s writing, and if disagreements arose between classmates during these discussions, we would openly debate while the teacher would clarify any misunderstandings. My English literature course provides room for discussing gender and social justice issues. Many of the works are written by women, and there is little, if any, graphic violence.
Biased literature with graphic descriptions of abuse should not be normalized, reinforced, or introduced into a national curriculum. A broader representation of women in literature and a better explained concept of consent could change the Moldovan youth’s perception of societal roles for the better. With an ever-changing world, there is a developing awareness of inequality and gender-based violence, which should be reflected in the literary works and textbooks provided by the national syllabus. All children deserve a literature curriculum that encompasses texts written by women, provides diversity in terms of gender roles, and encourages objective thinking.
Anastasia, 17 Joer al, Youth Ambassadors zanter Hierscht 2023
CUTASEVICI, CRUDU, & GRÎU. (2020). Curriculum naţional : Clasele 10-12 : Curriculum disciplinar : Ghid de implementare . In MINISTERUL EDUCAŢIEI, CULTURII ŞI CERCETĂRII AL REPUBLICII MOLDOVA. Tipografia Centrală. Online link to PDF
Ministerul Educaţiei Al Republicii Moldova, Cristei, Ghicov, Cosovan, & Cartaleanu. (2014, June). Limba și Literatura Română MANUAL PENTRU CLASA A XI-A [p. 235]. CARTDIDACT. Online link to PDF