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one step forward, two steps back

one step forward, two steps back

Brainwashing in Grade School: By Edgar B. Anderson

When I was in grade school, there was a good deal of revisionist history taught. Now that the radical left has gotten ahold of our textbooks, our kids are learning distorted history; lessons that go too far in making America accountable for its actions in the past.

I have no problem with teaching our children the realities of life and war in the past. America was not always the good guy. But I do believe that as Americans, we should portray a somewhat balanced outlook on history. Not lies, not distortions, just balanced truth.

"The most dramatic offering in Bridges to Literature is a lengthy excerpt from Laurence Yep's semi-fictional Hiroshima, which appears in the textbook immediately preceding the Holocaust story about Anne Frank mentioned earlier. Many pages are dedicated to detailing the suffering and death of 195,000 Japanese, thanks to the Americans. "People are still dying today," the author informs. Yep acknowledges that war began as a result of a Japanese aerial attack: "Caught by surprise, many ships and planes were wrecked at the naval base, Pearl Harbor." But nothing is said about anyone being killed.

The narrative jumps back and forth between the crews of the Enola Gay and its escort planes and two Japanese teenage sisters, Riko and Sachi. The Americans are shown preparing for their operation. Finally, "The bombardier presses a button to release the bomb." As for the girls: "Sachi mercifully passes out." "Riko and her classmates are destroyed." Later, "The bodies of schoolchildren are piled up on a hallway bench. The mother looks through the bodies for her daughter. She hears a groan. Someone is alive. It is Sachi. However, Sachi has terrible burns on her face. She cannot even smile. It is as if she has no face."

How can you possibly teach about Pearl Harbor, recounting the horrors of the bomb, without recounting the Americans killed in the attack by Japan? Sometimes an absence of truth is as bad as a lie.

"A section called "Courage Counts" contains stories about four heroes: an escaped slave named Tice Davids, Puerto Rican baseball player Roberto Clemente, farm workers union organizer Cesar Chavez, and Cherokee Chief Wilma Mankiller. Chavez is graced with a lengthy profile and canonized as "one of the truly heroic figures of the twentieth century," "a giant in the civil rights movement of the United States," and "A saint. A hero. The Mexican-American Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr." Contrast the treatment of Chavez with a story elsewhere in the book about Abraham Lincoln, the only traditional American icon to be featured, which is limited to reporting on his childhood relationship with his stepmother and says next to nothing about his accomplishments.

Have we gone so far in our attempts at political correctness that we are teaching our children to forget everyone but minorities? Please don't get me wrong; I think it is wonderful that kids are learning about more than white-bred heroes. But must we leave the majority out in order to teach about the minority?

Then there's this gem:

"Poetry selections in Bridges to Literature include a 27-line verse entitled "Graffiti" and subheaded "A Little Graffiti Can Say a Lot about the Person Who Wrote It." The editors pose to students three questions labeled "Connect to Your Life": "Where have you seen graffiti? Did you think about the writer? How do you think the writer felt when he or she wrote it?" There is no discussion of the wrongfulness of graffiti vandalism.

Now we are teaching kids to view graffiti as meaningful artistic statements? Our town just spent a million dollars on removing graffiti from walls and educating children about vandalism. Now they want to introduce grafitti as literature into the school system?

I can imagine it now. My daughter, at the police station, hands staind with spray paint.

"But mom, you should think about how I felt when I wrote that. I mean, my words are on the side of the Dairy Barn. I'm an author!"

I do not agree with the author of the article on everything. I do think that it is about time we taught our children more than what is in their history books now. I do think that other races, religions and nationalities should be reprsented in our history books.

What I don't like is the America as the Bad Man mentality that seems to be cropping up in our schools. Sure, America has been the bad man at some times. Let the kids know that. But don't include all the bad parts without teaching them the good parts. If you want to make room to include the negative aspects of our history, you can not do at the expense of the good parts of our history.

(link via: I'm not sure what weblog I saw this at today!)


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I think this is particularly dangerous for elementary school kids because they have this view of things as totally good or totally bad, and I don't think any pet eductional project is going to change that, either. It's just kind of something you need a level of maturity for, and you'll fail at trying to teach it to someone who hasn't yet reached that level.

And basically what you're teaching the majority of children is that they're bad and evil and have nothing in their background to be proud of. Now, I think it's silly for an adult to think that America's always done right, but what's wrong with a child having pride in his/her background? For all our mistakes, we have done some things right, too, and some of them are pretty darn impressive.

Kids aren't dumb, they can understand that some things are good, and some bad.

Teach both. We've got a lot to be proud of, and some of that pride should be because we have admitted past faults and corrected them. I think that is an excellent point to make to children. Along with the point that we should continue to correct any faults we still have.

Kids aren't dumb, they can understand that some things are good, and some bad.

Teach both. We've got a lot to be proud of, and some of that pride should be because we have admitted past faults and corrected them. I think that is an excellent point to make to children. Along with the point that we should continue to correct any faults we still have.

Sorry about the double post. Got a server error on the first try.

One thing to keep in mind is that this isn't a text for a history course; it's most likely for something like freshman composition, one of the most troublesome courses at the university level. In many institutions (such as mine) the course is NOT about history. It's not about being PC. It's about teaching students to think critically about the world around them, to think critically about texts that they encounter, and to engage in a meaningful way some range of ideas that they will encounter over the course of their lives.

In short, the selections in books such as this are SUPPOSED to elicit such responses. They're supposed to spark debate about Hiroshima. Or about the artistic qualities of graffiti. They're supposed to engage students who are becoming incresingly difficult to engage. They're supposed to interest students who are increasingly difficult to interest. If the topics have to be sensational, so be it. (This is a problem in and of itself, and one which I'd be happy to discuss at some length)

This book, in other words, has been taken completely out of its proper context by what is an unabashedly right-wing publication (just look at the information sidebar) with a VERY clear political agenda: expose how the liberals are corrupting our children.

In fact, this is PRECISELY the kind of article I would teach in my comp classes, since it appeals to "ethos," or sets of commonly held values and beliefs: America good, save the children, protect our myths. And I would teach it NOT as a means of "revealing" it as wrong; I would teach it as an example of how the reader is being manipulated (i.e. for its rhetoric).

I'll duck the revisionist history debate, which is incredibly heated at the moment, and leave it simply at this: consider the context; consider the source. A good teacher would not be interested in the kind of indoctrination this article presupposes is going on. The fact that it relies upon what is probably a freshman comp textbook taken completely out of the context of program requirements, assignments, expectations, and classroom discussions suggests the degree to which the author has to stretch to make his "point."



Just read that it's a middle-school textbook. At any rate, my point still stands. This is, indeed, a "language arts" text, most likely designed to inspire some kind of debate and critical thinking, not the "transmission" of "facts."

Ugh. All of these textbooks seem to have the same title these days...bridges to this, ways of that, critical this...



Man, I wish that certain people in this country could get past... what? I'm not sure if it's self-loathing, guilt, or what. I doubt that the textbook mentioned the gruesome Japanese experiments on civilians in occupied areas or Allied POW's.

I look at the whole A-bomb thing from the perspective of my dad, who was poised to be part of the invading forces back in 1945. He figures that those 2 bombs saved millions of people on both sides from death in an armed invasion.

It's interesting that they don't use German children in the bombing of Dresden for this... perhaps because we reserve more pity for the Japanese than we do for the Germans, who got most of the press back in the day.

It's folly to second-guess past tactics in any case. i agree that kids aren't dumb, but if they get bombarded with stuff such as this, we shouldn't be surprised if a whole crop of John Walker Lindh wannabee's show up wanting to rectify past wrongs.

What I was more talking about, Kathy, is the desire to (for example) scandalize the lives of the founding fathers, to an extent that it overshadows all the good that was done in the founding of this country.