Just as with bias, textbooks often find themselves in the limelight – but not for the right reasons. Textbooks have been known to be the center of incredibly troublesome controversies – even getting as serious as having them pulled from school districts for various reasons. In this article, we will be discussing those reasons.
#1. Historical inaccuracy
According to stanford.edu, “‘Historians Laura Hein and Mark Selden tell us that “history and civics textbooks in most societies present an ‘official’ story highlighting narratives that shape contemporary patriotism”; “people fight over textbook content because education is so obviously about the future, reaches so deeply into society, and is directed by the state.”
We can see this example in the Japanese history textbook controversies, where the possible textbook options that come about every four years are examined by the Ministry.
Obviously you can see the room they allow for bias to infiltrate the learning material.
The same thing goes for Chinese textbooks. I have a friend who just came to the United States from China a few years ago – and she swears that Tiananmen Square never occured – because her school had disregarded that part of history. It makes sense, it allows for more oppression.
2. Idealistic Bias
If you heard about the Texas controversies back in 2010, then you know what Do Something has shared with the world:
“Despite months of protests, public comments and hearings, the Texas Board of Education is slated to vote to teach schoolchildren a version of American history that emphasizes the roles of capitalist enterprise, the military, Christianity and modern Republican political figures.”
The article then goes on to say that these are the specific changes the revisions called for:
“Replacing the term “slave trade” with “Atlantic triangular trade.” This has riled many who say it negates the evil buying and selling of human beings that was the slave trade.
One curriculum amendment describes the civil rights movement as creating “unrealistic expectations of equal outcomes” among minorities.
Another seeks to place Martin Luther King and the violent Black Panther movement as opposite sides of the same coin.
Dropping Thomas Jefferson from a list of Enlightenment figures whose writing inspired revolutions. Jefferson helped pioneer the legal theory of the separation of church and state, and was the principal author of the Declaration of Independence.
Kids will be taught that the right to bear arms is essential to democracy.
A suggestion that the anti-communist witch-hunt by Senator Joseph McCarthy in the 1950s may have been justified.
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is recast as driven by Islamic fundamentalism.
In a move that reeks of cultural superiority, the board has reduced the role of Latinos in American history.
Now you see all of the things that come along with textbook controversy. Watch out for these things and do not let it affect your root opinions of the matter.