Sunday, August 24, 2003

Rewriting history

Apparently the textbook industry and their school district clients have collaborated to institutionalize a kind cultural correctness that I find quite alarming. In this article from The Age Online in Australia, Jane Sullivan reviews a new book by Diane Ravitch, called "The Language Police" which reports the author's research on two dozen standard history texts used in US schools in the past few years. The examples should shock you.

With the motivation of reducing or eliminating language that might offend or intimidate young learners, textbook publishers have created a fantasy world in which a story by Isaac Bashevis Singer carries no reference to Jews and a story cannot mention pumpkins because they have pagan connotations.

I read once that the alarming increase in allergies and asthma in the US might result from reduced early exposure of young children to dirt. The body responds to its environment and encounters with dirt encourage the body to develop a healthy outer-oriented immune system.

So goes mental health as well. Exposure to lots of concepts, pleasing and not-so, encourages the mind to develop a healthy mental immune system. How can you recognize foolishness if you have never encountered it? Or bias? Or pain, or prejudice or the hundred other difficult concepts that these texts have so tenderly hidden? Couldn't the teachers read these awkward passages with their students and then discuss WHY such things occur? Shouldn't children have the opportunity to learn how to handle the REAL world, rather than learning about some fantasy land of bland positivism?
Language police arrest a child's learning - Books -

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