May 22, 2010
The Ying and Yang of Teaching: 4
Okay, so everyone is in an uproar about the state of Texas voting to alter the content of what is taught in the social studies and history courses in primary schools. The changes lean towards a conservative view and "emphasizes the roles of capitalist enterprise, the military, Christianity and modern Republican political figures." It will also diminish content regarding slavery, the historical role of unions in labor, etc. etc.
Let me share this, about that:
- Curriculum content and how it is taught is always changing. The dynamic that influences these changes is political, and a reflection of the attitudes of the times people are living in and the holders of power in their community.
- It is often just a handful of folks that are holding the final say in their hands when it comes to making curriculum content decisions. Therefore, if you care, find out what your local and state boards of education are doing and get involved.
- Every state provides the curriculum for public schools online. Google your state's curriculum standards and take a look at what is being taught. Hey, as a tax payer you are paying for it, see if it meets your standards.
- I'm glad people are making a stink about all of this, because, we all need to be mindful about what is being taught to children in school, regardless if we are parenting school-age children. Are we creating cogs for the machine, or compassionate human beings?
- I have found most social studies and history books to always be somewhat biased and flawed. I have looked at many of the textbooks we use in these courses. The content of many textbooks render the history and contributions of the Latino and the GLBT communities invisible, marginalized, or summarized into paragraphs.
- Most teachers are very aware of the shortcomings of curriculum and textbook content and will often supplement their lessons with additional materials. Also, many teachers will incorporate lessons and activities that engage students in critical thinking, and further inquiry. I know I do.
- This attitude about either - or, Us vs. Them, has no place in education. What is suppose to occur is that all sides and views are presented, and you engage a young mind with the task of sorting it all out, so that they can find their own evolving truths.
Meditate on this:
“the subject-matter of education consists of bodies of information and of skills that have been worked out in the past; therefore, the chief business of the school is to transmit them to the new generation...in essence, one of imposition.” — John Dewey
"Any situation in which some men prevent others from engaging in the process of inquiry is one of violence;… to alienate humans from their own decision making is to change them into objects."
— Paulo Freire