More Bad Thinking:

Textbooks are heavily censored--we wouldn't want to teach the wrong lessons, right? Even Plato talked about that in the Republic. It's a lesson holders of education degrees take seriously:
What do dinosaurs, mountains, deserts, brave boys, shy girls, men fixing roofs, women baking cookies, elderly people in wheelchairs, athletic African Americans, God, heathens, witches, owls, birthday cake and religious fanatics all have in common? Trick question? Not really. As we learn from Diane Ravitch's eye-opening book "The Language Police," all of the above share the common fate of having been banned from the textbooks or test questions (or both) being used in today's schools.
I always thought it was odd that Plato made Socrates the mouthpiece for this idea when it was presented in the Republic. Socrates' life was one of searching out and examining all ideas, everything he could, though in the end it meant his death to carry on. I have never understood why Plato felt it was appropriate to make Socrates an advocate for censoring what children encounter in order to control the development of their minds and attitudes. Socrates' approach was the opposite: to encounter widely, but think it through.

But the panels making these decisions were obviously not taught to think things through. Rather than introducing textbooks and tests that would expand student's horizons, they try to restrict the horizons as much as possible to avoid testing them on unfamiliar concepts:

Stranger still, a story about a heroic blind youth who climbed to the top of Mt. McKinley was rejected, not only because of its implicit suggestion that blind people might have a harder time than people with sight, but also because it was alleged to contain "regional bias": According to the panel's bizarre way of thinking, students who lived in non-mountainous areas would theoretically be at a "disadvantage" in comprehending a story about mountain climbing. Stories set in deserts, cold climates, tropical climates or by the seaside, Ravitch learned, are similarly verboten as test topics, since not all students have had personal experience of these regions.
What exactly do they teach at education school?

Link via Arts & Letters Daily.

No comments: