Monday, February 28, 2011

The Language Police...

I am just beginning to read this book by Diane Ravitch. The subtitle is "How Pressure Groups Restrict what Students Learn." So far, it is unbelievable. She is explaining how  sensitivity reviewers decide what is included in text books, standardized tests and all sorts of educational materials that are used in public schools.

Oh, my--it is shocking. For example, a passage for 4th graders to read having to do with the history and use of peanuts.

It describes peanuts as legumes, in the same family as peas and beans. It says they are nutritious, and they were first cultivated by South American Indians, especially the Incas. It explains how the Spanish Explorers conquered the Incas, and Portuguese explorers defeated many Brazilian tribes. Then the peanut was shipped to Europe for cultivation. It goes on to tell how African slaves planted and developed peanut crops and then goes on to tell about George Washington Carver and his peanut work and discoveries.

Although the passages were suitable for the age group and historically accurate, the  bias and sensitivity reviewers oppose the passage for three reasons:
  • A 4th grade student who was allergic to peanuts might be distracted by the statement that peanuts are nutritional and which does not mention the danger of peanuts to those who are allergic.
  • Using the term African slave --it is not considered appropriate. The term should be "enslaved African"
  • The passage that says that the Spanish and Portuguese defeated Brazilian tribes. They did not question the accuracy, but thought it might hurt someone's feelings.
Can you believe it? If these types of things have to be removed to make the readings without bias against any group, what is left? How can history be learned?

As I continue to read this book I will make further postings. It is clear to me that regardless of how your children are educated they need to be exposed to many, many types of literature where they can learn history from a variety of perspectives. When I was reading this chapter I couldn't help think of Sonlight's Intro to American History 1. See information below. Most of these books I love myself.

If you want your children to think critically  then please expose them to great literature, read together as a family and talk about what you read. Who wants kids who don't value the nutrition of the peanut because some are allergic? That is just plain nuts!

More later,

See post 1 here
See post 2 here.  
See Post 3 here.
[See what is in the Sonlight Core package--incredible treasure and a way to protect your kids from the bias and sensitivity reviewers.]


Discover key elements of American history from before the Spanish conquistadors through the 1850s, with a special emphasis on U.S. social history. You may wish to use this program, with modification, as the basis for teaching more than one child in 1st* through 6th grades.

Curriculum Overview:
Sonlight® Core 3 introduces you and your children to the diverse peoples of the United States-those who lived in the Americas before Europeans came, as well as those who came after. It covers the time period from before Christ to about 1850. You will marvel at the way in which all of these peoples shaped our nation's history, and how the land itself shaped the people.
You'll begin your expedition with archeological information coming from hundreds of years before Christ then continuing with some of the significant peoples and civilizations that flourished in the Americas while Europe was in the midst of its "Dark Ages." You'll find out about those civilizations' grisly and cruel religions, as well as their beliefs that parallel the Gospel of Christ.
Of course, you'll accompany Columbus on his famous voyage across the Atlantic. You'll be present as the Spanish conquistadors subdue and ultimately rule and oppress the peoples they find in the land. You'll also watch as English connivers twist the Spaniards' record for their (the Englishmen's) own ends.

You'll find out how and why the Atlantic Ocean served as a highway that linked the Virginia colony to England while, at the same time, it severed the New England colonies from their "mother." You'll learn about the "charity colony" (now a state) that certain wealthy men from England started in order to provide a second chance for London's poorest slum dwellers. You'll discover which state was founded on the loot of smugglers and pirates, and which state (then a colony) was founded by men who believed the Bible taught them never to offer military or police protection when their citizens were attacked.

You'll be there during the American Revolution, watch as the Constitution is written, meet George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and others. You'll accompany Adoniram Judson on his trip to Burma (Myanmar) in the early 1800s, and watch, amazed, as the incomparable Nathaniel Bowditch, a self-taught man, revolutionizes the international sea transportation industry! You'll come to know and appreciate statesmen like Ben Franklin; the explorers Meriwether Lewis and William Clark; inventors like Robert Fulton and Eli Whitney; plus dozens of other unforgettable characters — each one brought to life through a compelling biography or historical novel.

Truly, Sonlight® Core 3 offers you the opportunity of a lifetime to enter into our nation's history and enjoy it "live, as it happened."

Besides the more academic and subject-oriented books like former Librarian of Congress Daniel Boorstin's Landmark History of the American People and John Holzmann's Incans, Aztecs & Mayans, you and your children will enjoy engrossing titles like Esther Forbes' Newbery Award-winning Johnny Tremain and Marguerite Henry's Newbery Honor book Justin Morgan Had a Horse.

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