>>Education in America and the False, Misleading, Poorly Written Texts our Students are Using.
Posted October 8, 2009on:
I am copying this entire article from FamilySecurityMatters.org because education in America is in trouble and has been for the past 50 years. I was an elementary teacher for several years and then a college instructor. In elementary school I found I had to simply have my students shove most of their texts to the back of their desk until I collected them again at the end of the year. That was in the 1960’s and early 1970’s so now the text are a great deal worse for liberal bias and the intelligentsia rewriting history. In some cases they have tried to even rewrite geography! Look at the text books your children are using and see for yourself.
In college I did what was required by the head of the department and wrote the name of the required text for my course. In most cases it was a text written by an academic who had never been in the field and had no idea what they were talking about, or who had distorted history so badly as to be unrecognizable as US history. Then after writing the name of the text on the board I advised the class to see a student from my previous class. That was all I could say. I never checked to see who or how many students purchased the text and I certainly never referred to them or the content again. I taught from lecture and hand outs. I taught the truth.
Recently I had a commenter on a post ask my advise. I am reproducing the comment and my answer here:
I think Obama’s lack of knowledge of American history is affected by his “nomadic childhood”. From ages six to ten, Obama attended local schools in Jakarta, Indonesia. History lesson (and the passion for it) starts in the elementary schools.
Yes but one can not get thru college without at least a few history classes and law is all about history. I can find no reason and certainly no excuse for his ignorance. Except perhaps the only one necessary for one who wants to remake history as it was into history as they want it to be and that is to tell outright lies and tell them often enough that some people begin to believe them. One is that the United States is a Muslim nation when Muslim immigrants only began coming into the United States during the past 40 years.
And speaking of Jakarta it might interest you that he went to Muslim schools and as you say early training has much influence on the way the adult thinks. BB
Thank you for your reply. It is very much appreciated.
You are absolutely right, he can not make excuses for his “ignorance” that (at some degree) might be influenced by his “identity crisis” in his early life.
Fyi, my 12 years old and 10 years old girls have started to fall in love with history after watching “The Adventures of Young Indiana Jones” complete set.
I am currently looking for some good books on U.S. history for them as a follow up.
Thank you again.
Yes. Basic history books pre 1960. Even college history books would work. My daughter read all of my college text that interested her before she got thru high school as they, like news papers, are written for the 6th grade reading skill level. You might even root around in some used book stores and get a 1950’s World Book Encyclopedia set. This will give them a good grounding in who and what Americans were before the last 60 years.
Yes it is history of “dead white men”, but our history was “dead white men”. These white men were the movers and shakers and designers of what we are—saints and sinners all.
Start watching the history channel on TV. Most programing is good. From time to time a piece gets in that is slanted too far towards the “poor victim” but basically the programming is good. I get really upset that history is being rewritten about the Native Americans and slavery. The noble Red man was not all that noble truth be told. Yes the Whites broke treaty after treaty and the way the Cherokee nation was treated with the Trail of Tears was a sin we as a nation will pay for, but this has ever been the way of peoples thru out the eons: the weaker are taken over by the stronger. And as far as discrimination, well I remember being called a “hunky” because of my being only second generation northern European. It is just human nature and formation of the pecking order in society. It’s not right but then neither is the appendix either but we have the sucker sitting there just waiting to grab us.
Now, what can you do? Listen to the evening news with your girls and during the commercials talk about what you have seen and what is behind the news. At first you will have a tendency to get too involved in tying all the ends together. So try to give just the basic facts to their questions leaving time and exposure to clear up the picture.
Over time they will be able to start making their own selections of readings based on this firm foundation of who we were, are and are becoming. There are still a lot of good historians out there. This is when they will fill in the last 60 years of what I can only call the demise of American education. Unfortunately it encompassed my own time as an instructor where I was constantly swimming against the tide I might add. Many text were stuck in the desk and never dusted off until the last day of the school year while I more or less wrote my own texts for my students.
Oh yes, the best for documentaries: Ken Burns! He can not be beat on any level. And for Gods sake keep them far away from the Michael Moores and even the Al Gores.
Thank you for asking this old school marm her advice. made my day. BB
Now the article from Family security Matters on research done on current tests books in America:
October 8, 2009
Exclusive: Review: ‘The Trouble with Textbooks – Distorting History and Religion’Intense criticism of American public education makes The Trouble with Textbooks – Distorting History and Religion (Lexington Books 2008) by Gary Tobin and Dennis Ybarra even more relevant today. “This book is a case study of the information and message in American classrooms: how factual they are, how inclusive, how balanced.” Textbooks today have what Tobin and Ybarra call a “booming authorial voice.” Consequently, knowledge and scrutiny of the evaluation process of textbooks, supplementary classroom materials, and teacher in-services are needed as never before. This study involves 28 textbooks from the three major publishers: Pearson Education, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing, and McGraw-Hill. The insight into and the documentation of this study are both penetrating and frighteningly revealing.School text books “matter deeply” especially in the realm of social : history, geography, and comparative religions that tell the stories of American and world civilizations. Tobin and Ybarra have examined these texts, supplements and professional teacher training as to their accuracy and objectivity. Their findings “…demonstrated every thing from grade-level appropriate balance and impeccable facts to head-scratching mistakes, omissions, and mischaracterizations that bordered on propaganda.”While the authors did not find any single publisher’s product or product line significantly more problematic than the others, Tobin and Ybarra did find that the scholarship of many textbook authors on the whole is poor. Much of the actual textbook writing is done by incompetent writers with very little expertise. “Shoddy scholarship also means the inclusion of false ‘facts,’ inaccurate generalizations, imprecise conclusions, repudiated theories, and sometimes, rumors that have taken on the weight of truth with grounding in academic inquiry.”Currently the textbook business is worth $3.7 billion but maintains only a small profit margin. Consequently, the textbook material is often out of date, inaccurate, and dumbed down. Electronic publishing creates a disincentive for costly reprints. The overuse of sidebars, illustrations, and exercises has not left room for meaningful narrative about history. The nonpartisan American Textbook Council, historians, and educators evaluated the majority of textbooks in use in American schools as “overly detailed at points and superficial at others.” This results in confusion, boredom, and the consequent inability of students to think critically.Publishers and textbook committees are exposed to all kinds of pressure group bias: the left, the right, the multiculturalists, the religious, and the non religious. The left is concerned with how individuals and groups are presented, while the right is concerned with morality and religion. Multiculturalism demands that comparisons are avoided, and all people are equally celebrated. California, for example, has a 1980s bias guideline. Consequently, textbooks follow closely the “cultural equivalence narrative.” This narrative celebrates everybody and tends to leave out unpleasant historical facts. Unfortunately, by withholding facts, the students don’t have the perceptions to form the concepts necessary for higher level thinking. Simplistic accounts of history are damaging. Blatant subjectivity too often exists in the telling of historical stories about the origins of civilization, the birth of nations, and the character of people.The Council on Islamic Education is one such pressure group which subjectively retells the history of the Middle East etc. This council is of particular concern for Tobin and Ybarra, both of whom are associated with the Institute for Jewish and Community Research. Muslim groups provide assistance to publishers in textbook content areas. In addition, materials and teacher training are prepared by Muslim and Arab interest groups; often such material is pro-Arab and pro-Palestinian. The authors, especially cognizant of such bias, allocate a good portion of the book to dealing with the poor textbook scholarship concerning Jews, Judaism, Israel, and the Middle East. Their examination is based on thorough and precise methodology. These authors in their analysis of the 28 textbooks found over 500 specific and notable problematic entries about Jews, Judaism and Israel. Tobin and Ybarra provoke the reader into thoughtful contemplation of this serious problem:The careful (and sometimes careless) selection of certain facts and omission of others, the explicit or implicit support for one set of values over another, is more than merely an intellectual exercise, a difference of opinion among well-intentioned people. These choices reveal our deep and conflicted political, religious, and ethical convictions, the beating, often divided heart of our American community. No wonder the battle for control of the textbooks is fought so vigorously.FamilySecurityMatters.org Contributing Editor Martha Gies-Chumney is a retired educator. She spent 43 years of teaching at the secondary and college levels in the United States and in South Korea. She has traveled extensively and writes both fiction and nonfiction. Currently, she lives in the Los Padres National Forest at Pine Mountain Club, California, and her present focus is political activism at the local, state, and national level.