Wednesday, January 27, 2010

You've Got to be Carefully Taught

I went in to watch the news yesterday partway through a segment on revising school text books in Texas. Apparently it involved omitting and/or changing references to the War between the States, the Liberty Bell and Christmas. Lots of people were upset, but I can't comment on the report, because I just didn't see enough.

I can, however, write on a text book which has a home in our basement. Among Ernie’s large collection of books is a relic from his early education. It is entitled Southern Lands, written by Harlan H. Barrows, Edith Putnam Parker and Margaret Terrell Parker and published originally in 1929. It might be worth keeping just for the graffiti inside the front cover. 75 cents for a textbook!*

It’s a "geography" book: you know, the subject that doesn’t exist any more—it’s Social Science these days. They might just as well have called it social science even way back then: this is a dense book, packed with facts and figures, charts and study questions, way more complex than anything you would find in today’s grade schools, or maybe even colleges.The authors write of the Belgian Congo and Rhodesia and there's not a single stan in sight.

And here's page 131, in which our triumvirate describes the problems of Mexico:

As a rule, they received little pay for their work. Sometimes the received none. Small wages mean low standards of living. Great numbers of Mexicans have become used to such standards. Since they do not know better ones, they do not wish for them. They do not know how to help themselves if they have a chance to do so.
You've got to be carefully taught

*I hate geography
In case of fire, throw this in.
Don't be hard on this book
me lad–75¢ it cost me dad
This book is nice and new
but the junk inside it is just gue (sic)


Maggie May said...

I just LOVE that graffiti!

Nuts in May

Paula said...

That's amazing! I do think geography, with all the facts, should be taught all through school,don't you? This is such a complex, changing world we live in. Children will need all the tools they can get if they are to survive in a global society.