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I'm a small-town poet in both written word and performance. I'm more influenced by rock and roll but I am also a lit-chick full of curiosity. My influences are far and wide and I can find writing inspiration in anything, from important matters to pure whimsy.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Another Education Post: Say No to Retconning

I know my last post became education focused, but now I have another one.

It's funny that a lot of lit. students apparently go into education, I don't want to. If I am to educate I'd rather do so in an unconventional manner. Mainly because I can't stand the bureaucracy of education.

A few days ago I read about some of the new textbook standards for Texas. I've heard the horror stories of poor editing, typos not caught, information that should have been fact-checked. Plus a crap-load of textbooks are published in Texas that are sent all over the country.

Personally, I feel their new textbook standards are unconstitutional. They ignore separation of church and state and freedom of religion. If someone want's to be conservative Christian that's fine by me. If you don't want your kids in a secular public school you're free to send them to a religious private school or home school them. Don't take over education boards to spread your brand of religion to other students. Hell, most schools are okay if parents send a note excusing their child from sex ed. and maybe science class when it comes time to teach evolution. It's disrespectful to other families that don't practice evangelical denominations or aren't Christian.

Too liberal? When I was doing my time in public school as a student I don't think textbooks were all that biased. They weren't telling me who to vote for or which way of life was better. They said the beauty of America was that you as a citizen had a choice in how you lived and America was all about the concept of freedom. Apparently now if you don't go by certain ideologies you can't have that freedom.

Some of the concepts the new standards will introduce in history textbooks:
Teaching the laws of nature vs. God's laws- For one, this is History, not Science class. Whole other subject, get your creationist debate out of US History.

Replacing how we call the government "democratic" and changing it to "Constitutional republic": From what I know, our government is called a "Democratic Republic", so stop being fussy over jargon. Terminologies haven't kept some of my classmates from growing up to be Republican. When I went to high school my region was known for being rather Republican politically.

Focusing on the Second Amendment: Yes the Bill of Rights is an important document on our freedoms. I also find it funny that the people saying that we need to keep our right to guns are also the same people who don't give a flying rat's ass about the First Amendment.

Teaching the students the Conservative Resurgence: Bias, bias, bias. Why do we students need to know about political party "trends". Teach kids that there are political parties, you can even teach the history of major political parties, but please teach students about both major parties, and not just the party of your preference.

Teach students about the Black Panthers as well as Martin Luther King Jr.: Okay in studying civil rights I agree that it's good to learn the different facets of a movement. There was a peaceful movement for equal rights and a violent one. Yet I've heard rumors that they're going to put both the Black Panthers and MLK in the same league. Don't do that. They're different entities who had different approaches. If you want to teach both, teach as a way to show things aren't as simple, not as a way to find means to brush aside a movement. That goes for any other social movement, teach it as history and don't just teach the "bad" stuff as a way to push the whole movement aside.

Also state that German and Italian Immigrants were also put in internment camps, so America doesn't sound so racist: Ummm.... don't rewrite history to make this country sound like it's not full of racist assholes. It still is full of racist assholes. It's actually pretty disturbing that people want history to be retconned.

Teaching the history of McCarthyism and why McCarthy was a good guy: Because we don't want all those filthy communists. Kids need to know how to sniff them out. I wonder how some of the conservative nutjobs would feel if it became a more well-known fact that McCarthy liked men. Yes he was gay, gay, and gay. Just like all those other "homophobic" conservatives who get caught in gay sex scandals.(note: I am not homophobic, I just find homophobic paranoia funny) He also a pro-temperance alcoholic.

A focus on "difficult life choices": Okay, this doesn't fit History and politics either. I believe in educating students about issues such as dating violence, eating disorders, and suicide, but not in History class. And the POV they may want to teach on some of these issues may cause more shame than help.

Reducing the importance of Thomas Jefferson: WTF? He wrote the Declaration of Independence and did a lot for our country. He's no saint, but he's still a Founder of our country. Yet it's okay to teach the sentimental smarminess of Thomas Kindade, a charlatan who likes to pee on things when he's drunk. Okay, I have a couple framed Kinkade puzzles, they were free and I got them before I know how much of a hack he really was. I guess I can keep them for irony? Or is that too "hipster" of me.

msnbc article

Guardian article


What can we do? Well not much on an individual level unless we work together. We could do what some are doing with Arizona and have a boycott against the state. Don't give your money to Texas companies, don't visit Texas, etc. Historically they're alright with being seen as not part of the rest of America anyways. Teachers could stop using textbooks from Texas based publishers, even if it means dropping the use of a textbook altogether. Kids would be happy to have one less huge book to lug around anyways. At my high school some of the classes didn't even have enough books to distribute to all the students and for some classes it was okay to do without. The Chemistry book I used was from the 1970s and was only seen as a "study supplement" the material we needed was taught right in class or was given in handouts.

I will admit that personally I'm pretty liberal. At the same time I'm annoyed that bias is being taught in schools, and that bias is coming from actual education boards. Even if they say it's at the teachers' discretion what and how to teach, there's no denying that there's bias in the actual textbooks that most students are told to read from. I want to see kids learn history, not some glossed-over neocon fantasy that both diminishes important parts of non-white male history and covers up the ugly stuff we've done. Students deserve to learn the facts and be allowed to come to their own conclusions.

*steps down from soap box*

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