Wednesday, October 29, 2008

MultiCultural Textbooks?

Below is the opinion piece we read in class:

Exclusive: Multicultural History: Playing in a Classroom Near You
Tom McLaughlin
Every week I'm reminded of my love/hate relationship with the U.S. history textbook (The American Nation, written by James West Davidson and Michael Stoff in association with American Heritage, published by Prentice Hall) used in my class. It blatantly panders to America's public school teachers who favor politically-correct interpretations of history. That's what I hate about it - and it's also what I love about it. The book's bias is easy for my students to recognize, and I can contrast it to my own conservative bias which I acknowledge very early in the school year. The book does not acknowledge its bias, purporting to be an objective account of events. It's an easy foil.I use the text mostly for students to read and answer discussion questions as homework, which we correct in class. In its coverage of the Vietnam War, one two-part question asks: "Why did civil war break out in [neighboring] Cambodia?" and "What were the results of the war?" As I walk around the room checking homework, a student volunteer acts as "assistant teacher" using the teachers' edition to go over the questions and answers. He or she will read a question, listen to various answers from students, and then read the "correct" answer. As for what caused the Cambodian Civil War, the teachers' edition gave the answer as: "U.S./South Vietnamese forces bombed and attacked Cambodia's bases; as Cambodians took sides, civil war erupted." The clear implication is that America started it.And the results of the war? The "correct" answer was: "Communist Khmer Rouge won; more than a million Cambodians died." They weren't worked to death or murdered by the communists. They just "died."The first time I heard that I was appalled and I asked the student to repeat what the teachers' edition said. President Nixon was no prize, but he didn't start the Cambodian Civil War when he ordered U.S. forces into North Vietnamese and Viet Cong sanctuaries there, and he didn't cause the Khmer Rouge to murder millions of Cambodians either. Communists own that. It's part of their dismal legacy around the world in the 20th Century, but the historians who wrote my textbook seem deliberately blind about the evil effects of communism wherever it has been applied. They define it as: "an economic system is which all wealth and property is owned by the community as a whole." Sounds fine when put in those terms, no? Contrast the text's definition with Random House's (2006) definition: "a system of social organization in which all economic and social activity is controlled by a totalitarian state dominated by a single and self-perpetuating political party." Based on about 90 years of applied communism around the world and tens of millions dead as a result, which definition is most accurate?Communism's first application was in Russia after Bolsheviks took control of the revolution and instituted the Soviet Union. The text's harshest criticism of their depredations is a description of how Americans were shocked "when the Soviet government did away with private property and attacked religion." Then it covers the first Ukrainian famine saying: "Despite disapproval of the Soviet government, Congress voted $20 million in aid when famine threatened Russia in 1921. American aid may have saved as many as 10 million Russians from starvation."The text doesn't speculate about why the Soviet government would "disapprove" aid to its own starving people. Neither does it mention that Soviet Premier Joseph Stalin engineered a "famine" in Ukraine ten years later to purposefully starve 7 million Ukrainians when they resisted "community ownership" of their farmland.What about the Soviet Union's military repression of Eastern Europe after World War II? When the text begins its coverage of the Cold War, students are asked: "Why did tensions develop among the Allied Powers?" The "correct" answer is: "The U.S. and Britain distrusted the Soviet Union's communist government; the Soviets, also distrustful, feared invasion." There's no moral superiority in America's $12 billion rebuilding of western Europe under the Marshal Plan compared to the Soviet Union's virtual enslavement of eastern Europe.Like it or not, that's the multicultural, morally equivalent theme permeating nearly every textbook used in America's public schools. No culture may be depicted as superior to any other culture, even when it is.

20 comments:

Hannah's Monarchs said...

When I first read this article, I was appalled to learn that so much information that I had obtained from my textbook was not necessarily completely true. The textbook had always been my merciful refuge for when I had a huge test to study for; it taught everything in simple and easy-to-remember words. Little did I know that I was only being taught part of the truth. And after reading this article, I have to say that I fully agree. The textbook was clearly written so that kids of all levels of intelligence could comprehend it, which explains its simplistic language and lack of elaboration. In addition, back in the day when our class used those textbooks, I found that it was quite inconsistent. Sometimes the textbook would talk about the main point and not elaborate on the details; and other times, it would give numerous details but not quite explain clearly what the main idea was. Consequently, it only gives a rough overview of the curriculum and doesn't clearly teach everything it should. Students using this textbook alone without any supplementary materials would be provided with the bare minimum of social studies education. Not only this, but students' parents are the ones paying the taxes that pay for the textbooks schools use to educate children. Is this the kind of education our parents meant for us to receive from their hard-earned money?

evermorefire said...

Truth be told, I’m actually not all that shocked at how shamefully pathetic our school’s textbooks are. I mean, come on people. We go to school for free. There are hundreds of people in our school. Each person needs a textbook. So, logically, is any school going to spend a bajillion dollars on our books? No.
Of course, it’s still offending to know that I can no longer even trust my own textbook to give me the information I’m looking for in blunt, honest terms. I realize that it is sometimes difficult to control biases, but let’s face it; most social studies textbooks are so prejudiced that it’s not even funny. And the worst part is, you would never have even guessed how completely opinionated the textbook was unless someone specifically told you.

-evermorefire

Anonymous said...

Sometime earlier in my life, the notion that textbooks were the "be-all-and-end-all" became ingrained in my head.

My logic, back then, was simple. I reasoned to myself that textbooks simply /had/ to contain absolutely correct information. Why else would schools have full supplies of them, readily accessible for student-use? In my, back then, decidedly black-and-white world, all reasoning pointed to textbooks holding utterly sincere and blunt information -- sometimes even brutally so.

Was this really the case in actuality?

No.

The very idea that textbooks could contain overly simplistic -- sometimes even to the point of being practically false -- information never crossed my mind. Well. That is, until I read this enlightening article. There's little doubt that my world (of textbooks) has been completely crashed and burned, then rearranged itself into a more complicated layout.

Being told only half-truths is basically what it says. Half-truths. Half of a truth does not constitute a whole. While one can hardly state that all items and concepts have mathematical properties, it's rather obvious that, in this case, half-truths are merely half and not at all complete. In the world of information, sometimes, half of something is the very equivalent of a blatant lie. The human mind processes what little information it is given and comes to a conclusion. However, without /enough/ information, the human mind is incapable of reaching the /correct/ conclusion. Or even deducing a full truth.

If textbooks are like this, they might as well feed us lies for lunch, too.

I, as a student, have used this textbook before. Last year, I believe. I had absolutely no idea that the information was so misleading. What do people take us students for -- idiots? Being a child does not automatically make me a fool. Adults are not always correct. Given enough information, we children can reach our own conclusions and sculpt our own opinions on matters.

Ignorance is not necessarily bliss. Many people know that, and the those who don't will probably reach the notion eventually. By shielding the "bad" information from students, the textbook isn't doing anyone a favor. Life isn't a happy fairytale that's completely black-and-white. It's a whole damn /grayscale/ out here, complete with shades of white, black, gray, AND all that other jazz out there. Or it may even be a full-fledged /rainbow/, of all things.

So. You've got the good, the bad, and the ugly. That's life. But when historians are deliberately blind about certain gruesome details that the general populace should have a right to know... oh, it gets /ugly/. What kind of education is /this/? Education is around to... well, /educate/ people. Being fed a mass of half-truths hardly constitutes a proper education. Simplicity paves the way for misunderstanding, after all.

History repeats itself. Constantly.

If our textbooks don't even give us the right information, how, pray, are we to be prepared for the future that is to come?

...Sometimes, it probably isn't even as bright as it's cracked up to be.

<------ - - - - -—————
Nostalgiac .
—————- - - - - ------>

Hannah's Monarchs said...

I’ve never actually noticed the textbook’s tendency to make everything so equal to avoid taking a “side”. I guess the reason for that is I barely paid attention to class in sixth grade- I doodled in my notebook instead of listening, though I did copy the notes the teacher gave- and we rarely used the textbook last year. I don’t usually look for an author’s point of view when I read books unless I have to. I would not be the first person to pick up the textbook’s ‘neutral’ point of view, but now that it was pointed out to me, I find it is very clear.
Teachers should not be so dependent on the textbook. Instead of using the textbook to construct their lesson plans, they should use the textbook as a set of guidelines or even just reference material. Students need to learn both points of view on a topic. Teachers should teach the students to recognize bias in articles related to the topic. Students that learn this will gain the ability to be more fluent readers. Teachers should also educate the students about both sides of the argument, and then allow the students to decide which side they agree with. The students should support their decision with facts. Teachers that do this tend to mold well-rounded people.
School systems should use a textbook that has more than just a neutral point of view. If school systems are unable to obtain this, then the teachers should be forced to teach multiple points of view, so long as no students are insulted in any way. The material inside the textbook does not matter; it is up to teachers to teach the lesson. It is their responsibility to give America a good future, not a silly little book’s.

Hannah's Monarchs said...

In a way, I agree with the author, but I also disagree with him. I agree with him in that by being politically correct, our textbooks sometimes miss out on the truth. Take any particular lesson that might offend someone, the textbook complicates the whole thing to not be offensive, in that, in the end, one does not learn anything about the given topic. This can bring out an especially negative impact on students, as they will get a completely different interpretation of history. Not only this, but this acts as an obstacle, in that a limit to the curricula could completely ruin a pupil’s social studies education. Is this the type of elucidation educators are looking for? Do they want these kids to have limited knowledge as a result of a textbook’s unbiased views? No, I definitely agree that children need a complete, focused education, but do the textbook makers have a choice? Imagine a student being offended because his/her culture was insulted, though inadvertently. The textbook would simply be explaining this history, without the realization of the blatant bias there would be, even if it was history. These textbook companies also have to be careful not to offend anyone, to treat everyone equally, because their company would be hurt as well as the individuals.

Hannah's Monarchs said...

Wasn’t the purpose of textbooks to teach us things? Schools are acting like overprotective parents when it comes to teaching us the unpleasant truth of our world’s history. But truthfully, I was not surprised when I read this article. I knew that school systems, and for the matter everything must be politically correct, and must not, god forbid, scare the children. When you make the world seem like ponies and rainbows, what is the point of even teaching history? When a textbook has false information, it is just waste of paper. Making something easy for everyone to understand does not justify a lie. The way the textbook explains communism in this passage is ridiculous. They say that all the wealth and property is owned by the community as a whole, but “forget” to mention the millions of people dead. Who are they afraid of offending, the communists? The fact that many people died is a fact. People are easily offended today by almost everything. You can almost always find something that will offend somebody in some way. So what do we have left to say, teach, and learn?

Justin said...

It isn't the job of the textbook to sugar-coat the truth. It is there to be a valid reference. At this level, I think students can tolerate the misfortunes of history. More or less, if the truth is going to be bent, how are we ever going to learn from the past? The past should scare us, preventing it from happening again. Political correctness is doing more harm than good. History does offend people. Not to be too blunt but get over it, history is upsetting and tragic, people can't live in a bubble forever. I understand this at an elementary level, but I think that Middle Schoolers are capable of dealing with history.
I'm not sure what other sources have ranked political corectness over truth, but from now on I'm sure that I'll keep my eye out for them.

i'mwithstupid said...

Personally, I agree with Tom 100% and I think he is totally right. Now, I understand how the people who made the textbooks are trying carefully not to sully anybody's religion or group, but, is it really worth it? You are going to teach kids the wrong things and let them go on in life knowing and spreading wrong information just so somebody's feelings won't get hurt? Quite frankly, I think that is the wrong decision to make. But the sad part though is that most Americans are too dumb to even notice that the textbook is wrong, so what's the difference?
Still, textbooks should not display the politically correct information, but the CORRECT information, no matter what the truth is. Students eager to learn deserve to gather the CORRECT information for their lifetime. It's pretty sad now because of the condition we are in that we can't look up or know what really happened in the past. If we can't do that, how are we going to stop the bad history from repeating itself?

the modinator said...

I wholly agree with the article in the sense that the book leaves out many important facts. This article reminds of an essay read to us in class about two weeks ago. The essay was about how the textbooks just took important events, explained them, then went on to the next important event. The difference between these two was that the essay said textbooks left out unimportants events, while the essay talked about how the textbooks did not write the total gruesome story, just the little part of it that was not as bad as the others. I agree more with the article rather than the essay because although the textbook does skip many small events in history, it does not compare to what the textbook leaves out because they want to keep it happy.

havesomecookies said...

All these years of sitting at my desk in class, I’ve never actually paid attention to those history textbooks lying in the corner of the classroom. Teachers have always depicted them as the pivotal center of all new knowledge, and I just played along while I swore in my head. Class became day after day of reading the godly textbook that was suppose to educate us thoroughly and get our creative juices flowing. I’ve always looked at history textbooks with disdain, because the overly naive language and easy paragraphs make me want to throw up my breakfast on the pages. You don’t learn much, and you gain nothing. I can verify that from past experiences, because I found myself snoring after 5 minutes of trying to read the microscopic print on the pages. But I never fathomed the fact that this information could be false. It’s dreadfully simple, but false? Tom McLaughlin’s article is so correct it’s scary. It’s scary to think the children of America are living a lie, because apparently nothing in that textbook is veritable. Not only is the textbook dreary and extremely “comprehensible”, but I’m willing to bet money that half of it is bogus. The history textbook always puts the ideas right there in the spotlight, plain and unexposed, but isn’t there a story behind it?

Ignorance is not bliss when it comes to history. Thomas Gray must have been living under a rock when he said this.

The information given in history textbooks is so vague that it instead of hitting the point right on the head, it dilly dallies and skips around it to “Happy Bunny Rainbowland.” Well, “Happy Bunny Rainbowland” could one day lead to “I just screwed up the country/world land”, and that will be when I crawl under a rock.” The textbooks never say it like it is. They apparently perceive as morons, because they want us to go around saying “There was a Civil War. The North won; the South lost.” The end! I love the enthusiasm, but let’s face it, it was a lot gorier than just that. Because the chapters are not direct or detailed, and it leaves it wide open to diverse interpretations. If you fling a person as dumb as a doorknob at the textbook, they’ll peruse it and, chances are, they’ll think the world was always happy with a few bumps in the road. But hey, nobody’s perfect right? Wrong. Without proper details, mistakes are repeated. The few people who know the cold, hard truth are standing in the mist of it all, shaking their heads at what our generation has completed. Unless trying to create a second apocalypse is bliss, we really need to renovate our history textbooks. They’re starting give me a bad case of “clueless”.

Evil McNuggets said...

Hearing of this deception in our textbooks made me realize something about our government. They are extremely protective and over-cautious. They want to keep us from becoming racists, which I completely agree with. However, some things are the blunt truth and they are keeping such information from us. They are so completely wrapped up in keeping everything "politically correct" that half of the information gets lost in the process. Comparing the answers given in the textbooks to the actual answers, that much is clear.

The textbooks in question are obviously incorrect. They are trying to block out saying that any one race or ethnic background is better than another, but while doing this the books make it seem like it's all the Americans' fault. "U.S./South Vietnamese forces bombed and attacked Cambodia's bases; as Cambodians took sides, civil war erupted." This clearly shows the side effects of "politically correct" textbooks. That clearly implies that the U.S. caused the war, which is not fact. Anyone who read these books without any prior knowledge would be misled to believe many fictions accidentally. It is clear that knowledge will recede if this continues.

Thinking of the protectiveness of the government made me think of the documentary we watched in class about the difference in economy, government and opportunities in Hong Kong, America, and India. It made me remember the bureaucrats in India who are being extremely overprotective. So protective that it took them months to approve letting Pepsi and Coke into their country! While trying to protect their country, they are somehow overlooking the poverty that lines the streets in India. In America, we are now seeing signs of that in our school textbooks! They are so attached to making sure that everyone seems equal in the book that they overlook important details.

('’’)(O.O)('’’)
-->Evil McNuggets<--

EGG said...

Ah, the textbook, source of all the information you need to know.
Too bad none of it is true.

Ok, maybe I’m exaggerating a little bit there. Some of it is true. But the rest of it only scrapes the surface of the real facts. Our school textbooks contain only the information they want you to know because they are completely protective about what you read in it. They’re barriers, shielding us from the real situation, almost like an over-protective parent, protecting their child from the cold, outside world. Until the child finally grows up and gets out there, discovering he cannot fend for himself, and ultimately, is screwed.

These textbooks’ goals are to be politically correct, and in no way, shape, or form, show bias towards anyone. And I respect them for that, wanting not to force any negative thoughts on any group. But the real facts must be addressed, so we students can find the real truth in what happened. Our minds shouldn’t be poisoned with the lies that our textbooks tell us. We need to know what actually happened. The real mistakes, that happened in the past, so we can learn from them, and apply that to the real world. Similar to how we can use the mistakes that other civilizations made, like ancient Rome and such, to keep our own nation up and running.

So, where I’m getting at is, textbooks shouldn’t be protecting us, afraid that they may offend anyone. Sure, it may offend some people, and we’ll have to deal with that. But, we need a textbook that just lays down the facts, because we need to learn the truth behind everything. And bless the one who has the guts to make that book.
-EGG =D

Anonymous said...

Are these textbooks telling little white lies? yes. Am I surprised? No. Even now some teachers feel that exposing us to "terrifiying things" will change our "innocence." Textbooks are constantly trying to brighten things and make people seem either good or bad. When someone is bad, they usually say something like they were mean to their subjects. textbooks are good for teaching a general idea for an easy test. If someone were to base all of the information in their brain on this textbook, they would be rather innocent. The truth of the matter is textbooks like these that are so politically correct are trying to forget that we are growing up. They need to start thinking about what will truly benefit us in the years to come. Knowing that the U.S. had "arguments" with the Soviet Union does not enhance my knowledge in the slightest!

-flippyhair901

Cheez said...

I'm not completely shocked about this issue with textbooks, seeing that so many things around us are sugarcoated most of the time. Textbooks always record deaths in numbers, which doesn't seem as real compared to knowing what people experienced and how their lives ended. Most average kids would take on the history textbook as an object that's heavy, incredibly simple, yet inexplicably boring. After nearly spending my entire elementary and middle school social studies periods possibly learning lies, you'd think that your own teacher would tell the difference. Lucky for me, mine does.

I only use the textbook if I absolutely need to, such as studying for a test or answering the usual end-of-chapter questions. Some of the sentences in the textbook are equal to what a third grader could write, and it just state things so dryly that it could put you to sleep as fast as a bedtime story. Realistically, social studies is not supposed to help you get your full 8 hours sleep, but rather help you get an understanding on the world around you.

Nothing wrong with that, no? Only if your textbook is so limited in point of view that you wouldn't tell the difference concerning loss of lives between a genocide and the Boston Massacre.

--Cheez

imagine purple said...

After reading this article, I was truly terrified. I've always know that I'm a totally oblivious person, but I never thought that something this big could escape my notice. Somewhere in the so called 'education' that I recieved from K-6 grade, I missed the lesson that maybe everything written in textbooks WASN'T true. Maybe there was no such lesson. Regardless, it is frightening to think that maybe, in an alternate universe, I could have turned into one of those mindless robots of modern day society: the ones who call themselves grown-ups. But taking a second look at textbooks, I am, once again, honestly terrified. What is today's youth learning? Will they blindly believe every piece of information thrust at them in the aesthetically-pleasing, 'all-knowing' form of a textbook? For a textbook to be so politically correct that it is historically INCORRECT makes me wonder where our society is heading.

Hannah's Monarchs said...

According to Tom McLaughlin, history textbooks that so many teachers and student rely on have not given the whole truth. A prime example is the textbook's definition of communism - "an economic system in which all wealth and property is owned by the community as a whole," making it seem like communism is a fine system to live by. Random House's (2006) definition is, however, " a system of social organization in which all economic and social activity is controlled by a totalitarian state dominated by a single and self-perpetuating political party." That definition describes the communism that has taken place in history - the topic that the textbook is supposed to be teaching about.
Today America is all about political correctness. That may be good and necessary to a certain extent, such as when you are in a social environment like schools, but political correctness should not euphemize our history - the facts are the facts, politically correct or not. We can not redefine historical events or the implications thereof, nor should we tailor the truth to the audience. A society, our children, cannot learn from our mistakes or success if history is retold in such a politically correct fashion that the truth is lost. The only way to correct the injustice of our past is present it as it was, politically correct or not.

BaseballProdigy04 said...

I fully agree with Tom, in all aspects of his essay. These textbooks we use are made to influence the simple minded people who do not look beyond the text to uncover the truth. Curious, intelligent scholars such as us find the lies written in the texts appalling; being fed false information certainly does not sit well with me. I believe that as the next generation of our glorious nation of America, we are entitled to the truth about what really happened in history, and these texts simply don't give the entire truth.
Our parents pay taxes, a portion of which is used to pay for these texts. Our parents work long, hard hours to earn a living, and well, paying taxes is inevitable for the prosperity and success of a nation. However, a small bit of our parents money paid in taxes goes towards schools; textbooks, supplies, etc.
If our parents' money is used to buy textbooks that do not even depict the real truth about America, then why should our parents pay these taxes? Furthermore, why should these texts give the politically correct definitions of what actually happened in history?
The correct answer is that they should not. Part of the reason the notorious textbooks give false information is because the actual accounts and historic happenings do not sit well with the people of America. Therefore, the texts and their authors, assuming that we are simple, mindless people, give false information about history. And for the intellectuals in our society, this simply will not do. I mean let's face it; we are trying to improve the nation’s economy, we are trying to create a successful country that our children and our children's children and so on will live a prosperous life in. And at the base of all this success is having been taught the correct information in school; the ACTUAL accounts of what happened in history.
If the textbooks give the politically correct definitions of the occurrences in history, it will throw off the entire chain of success for our country.
So basically I'm saying that false information in textbooks purchased by our hard working parents should not be tolerated, and we should be taught and exposed to the politically incorrect information and accounts of history, no matter who it offends, in order to ensure that we positively influence our posterity, and in doing this, our nation will become more successful than it ever has been. But to get an entire nation back on track, the best place to start is by influencing the country's future generations positively, and this can be done by feeding us the politically incorrect information about history, not just what we want to hear.

-BaseballProdigy04

mdgt0fdrknsz said...

The bad thing about these textbooks is that, as the author stated better than anyone else could, the authors have chosen "political correctness" over neutrality and fact. Though times are changing and being politically correct is quickly becoming more imperative, the authors really need to step back and ask themselves, "Did I overdo it a bit?" While textbooks, for the most part, have always done a decent job of giving mostly accurate facts, the issues, opinions, and fundamentals such as political correctness are starting to do the opposite of what they were meant for distort what happened. For example, as McLaughlin explained, the portrayal of the Khmer Rouge movement in Cambodia has been twisted too far as a result of the author's preoccupation with being "politically correct." Despite Communism's controversial status in today's environment, people shouldn't have to try to make students understand it better by scaling it down. They should be allowed to look at the issue from many perspectives, which will not only help students really understand it better, but teach them how to think and make conclusions on their own.

A tip for teachers: If you're teaching something as important and as easily distorted as social studies, don't solely rely on the textbook - teach the students yourself, because that's what a teacher is for.

Tom McLaughlin said...

Hi Folks,

There's so much thoughtful commentary here that I can't answer it all. If all I do is point you to this book: "The Language Police" by Diane Ravitch, I will have done you all a service. It's the best single study about school textbooks and the way they're put together that I know of. It's influenced me enormously as a writer and a teacher.

The first comment says: "I was appalled to learn that so much information that I had obtained from my textbook was not necessarily completely true." That's accurate, but then it's accurate about nearly every textbook, even the best ones. Most of what you find in textbooks is true, just not completely true. We have to use critical thinking when we're reading anything. We have to ask ourselves what the authors are emphasizing and what they may be ignoring. Their biases are exposed that way. Doesn't mean their point of view is invalid, we just have to be aware that they have a point of view. We all do. It influences the way we present something, even when we try our hardest to be objective.

"The American Nation" is particularly bad though, as are most social studies textbooks, ironically because they follow stringent "bias guidelines" as Ravitch points out in her book. Those rules are there ostensibly to reduce perceived bias, but in fact they exacerbate it. In their zest to compensate for what they think is the sexist, racist, homophobic, mysogynist bias of early twentieth century, they impose rigid, politically-correct bias of the late twentieth century.

Again, it's not that they don't tell the truth; it's that they only tell their version. They're nothing if not true believers. As another perceptive commenter said:

"In the world of information, sometimes, half of something is the very equivalent of a blatant lie. The human mind processes what little information it is given and comes to a conclusion. However, without /enough/ information, the human mind is incapable of reaching the /correct/ conclusion. Or even deducing a full truth."

He/she is cognizant of being mislead by half truths. Bravo. He/she also gives insight into his/her world view in the comment. Implicit is the recognition that there is such a thing as objective truth. That's a world view not shared by many textbook writers in the humanities today. They instead tend to be relativists, or worse, nihilists. Relativists don't believe there is any such thing as objective truth so they don't look for it. Worse, nihilists don't believe historical events mean anything, so they don't look for meaning. They certainly don't depict it when they write either. Consequently, it's hard to find things like patriotism depicted anywhere. If it's presented at all, it's portrayed negatively as "excessive nationalism" because it's the antithesis of multiculturalism.

Another commenter says:

"Instead of using the textbook to construct their lesson plans, they should use the textbook as a set of guidelines or even just reference material. Students need to learn both points of view on a topic. Teachers should teach the students to recognize bias in articles related to the topic."

I agree. For me, the book is a convenient foil. It tends to present material with a liberal bias, which balances my own conservative bias. I acknowledge my bias to students, but the book doesn't.

The last commenter wrapped it up nicely:

"A tip for teachers: If you're teaching something as important and as easily distorted as social studies, don't solely rely on the textbook - teach the students yourself, because that's what a teacher is for."

bubbasquash said...

When I read that article, Just like the last few people who wrote comments were probably thinking,I said.. What were the people who wrote this textbook thinking?? Writing "nearly true" facts aboout history isn't sensible in any way.But, after reading a few comments and understanding this article more, I realized that sometimes, little lies never hurt anyone. As long as the textbook follows some sort of boundry and doesn't include 'unicorns', Mrs. Hannah can give us the perfect addition to the textbook work in order to make it more true to life.This textbook WAS built for EVERYONE to be able to understand, and sometimes kids our age cannot decifer what fully happened.
In our school, spending tons of money is not an option. Just like evermorefire said,
"We go to school for free. There are hundreds of people in our school. Each person needs a textbook. So, logically, is any school going to spend a bajillion dollars on our books?"
Little details that might not directly state the trtuth is OK considering we go to public school right? At first when i got the textbook, I thought it made the perfect sense. But once pointed out, I realized that this post is true.
Even if it is true, if I didn't notice it at first it can't be that bad, can it??