A couple of articles about the imminent change in history and social studies textbook standards in the state of Texas. Here’s MSNBC‘s take, and here’s the Christian Science Monitor‘s.
What do you–sorry, y’all–think?
And here is some further outraged commentary.
While I’m certainly no historian, I have noticed that older history textbooks do seem to contain quite a bit more information than newer ones. One modern American history textbook I picked up seemed to take for granted that its readers knew the main causes and events of American history, and instead focused almost entirely on minorities. Like it or not, the movers and shakers of American history were mostly white men, and to ignore what they did and said for the sake of the underrepresented might be good philosophy, but it makes for bad history.
Some revision might therefore be in order, though I don’t know if some of the revisions from that article are quite right. You tell me, Chris; you’re the Americanist. 🙂
Textbooks should present the information objectively. This is on the verge of relativism. We can’t speak of truth and then decide that we want to write what truth is.
To put it nicely this is propaganda. We shouldn’t be twisting the truth to force our beliefs upon students. If our beliefs are worth believing and are true they should be able to stand up on their own in the face of opposition.
This will weaken student’s education and maybe even their faith. Kids these days don’t appreciate deceit and this may even push them away from the beliefs you are trying to instill in them. This will also force a wedge between conservatives and liberals and between non-Christians and Christians.
Brian, while I agree that textbooks need to be responsible in their presentation of information, “objective” history (or social studies) is a fiction. History is by its nature a hermeneutic discipline. There are always layers of interpretation involved. The idea is to match those interpretations as closely as possible to the canons of evidence used by responsible historians.
I grew up in Texas also and this scares the bejeesus out of me!
This doesn’t seem to surprise me one bit. In an American context that holds a manifest destiny-city on a hill complex–as many conservatives do–they equate the entire U.S. as the equivalent of Israel (People of God) and strive to keep her pure. Therefore, American patriotism, capitalism, the right to bear arms, etc. and holding such values is what it means to be faithful.
I grew up in Texas and the American flag waves alongside the Christian flag. There is a belief that America is a Christian Nation and the efforts of those, like on this Texas Education Board, are given to keeping the standards pure. In all reality though, I surmise that it is much more about upholding ones culture and not being made to feel uncomfortable. After all, if they weren’t concerned with comfort they would be preparing their children in how to actually engage honestly an American nation that is increasingly influenced less by Christianity, instead of cloistering them away, training them to be super-ethnocentric republican/conservatives.
The problem, and my concern, is that they are spending all their time trying to train children to live on an island of Christianity that doesn’t really exist. And as believers we are to be making disciples of Jesus and Jesus goes to the marginalized, not the religious leaders of his time (their culture) Furthermore, Jesus doesn’t equate any country with the Kingdom of God. There are many Christians in America that spend a lot of energy preaching this and to me it is an unnecessary stumbling block to Jesus.
Eloquently stated, Jacob.
I would not be in favor of it since I’m not a conservative! I think both sides of the spectrum that wishes just to present their viewpoint is foolish.