In the k-12 classroom, with such diverse learners, it is so very important that educators “teach outside of the textbooks“. The standard-issue texts, history books in particular, begin to add real and full truths to their readings, we must fact-check, examine the evidence and supplement be more inclusive in classroom instruction.
Traditional textbooks purchases is often a local or district-level decision. In fact, textbook purchases are estimated at an average cost of $120.00 per student in public school. Considering the average classroom size is 25-30 students, that amounts to an incredible cost for books that are dismissive of truths-fiction sprinkled with a few facts.
For decades upon decades, we have been teaching ‘facts’ about American History that have been far from factual. Truth in its totality must be presented without strategic omissions of facts, and absent of politically-correct revisions. Perception is different from proof and propaganda, far from truth, and is aimed to alter perception. Written history has been set up to control what is perceived as fact. They present ideas didactically as discrete facts to be accepted, rather than as clues to explore and examine the challenges and triumphs of humanity.
Some textbooks do a fabulous job of presenting relevant information , but others insult students’ intelligence by oversimplifying and fragmenting the subject matter so much that it becomes incomprehensible. Still others explore only a few topics instead of a standard content set.
That is propaganda that millions of children are taught to believe that the strategically designed history is the whole truth and nothing but the truth regarding this country’s founding, slavery, reconstruction, and into the present times. In so doing, it is completely logical that racism still thrives in the hearts and minds of Americans. They have been socialized and taught this way. Moreover, given the absence of quality and choice in standard-issue K-12 social studies textbooks, children are being taught the same basic beliefs, but through different versions of history. Even in the midst of a globalization of society, internalized racism, subconscious or implicit bias is cultivated and reinforced by the texts. We teach it!
Propaganda-designed to control public opinion and create a collective conscious….proliferated in times of war and political upheaval. When a child receives messages that he/she is bad, dumb, insignificant and is being told that everywhere he/she goes? Eventually, that child internalizes that feeling. Depending upon personal philosophy of human nature, is a child born bad? If so, then how do we make that good? If we popularize the notions that an entire group of people are bad, then eventually the self-fulfilling prophesy results. If I am so bad, then it doesn’t matter that I start doing bad things, right? constantly
History of this country is wrought with strife, beginning with the enslavement of Africans- no- beginning with the indigenous peoples, Native Americans, into the present day. Quite peculiar it is that these two groups of people are so seldom mentioned in history books that are supposed to tell the story of this nation. Did they disappear or were they all massacred? Rhetorical question, because we know that this is not true at all. Had/have they no life, no ancestry, no descendants? Of course3 not, but where is their history, their story, their chapter in history…just one full chapter?
So, how do we right this wrong? First, we must teach outside and beyond the textbooks. To be fair to the student diversity, and prepare them all for a global society, we must show them representations of ALL lives. Because, yes, all lives do matter, not just white ones. But, learning nothing about the people who sit beside them in class and not giving them experiences and references that demonstrate the humanity in all differences, merely sets the stage for deeper divides in society.
Although I advocate for the complete discontinuance of school district purchases from the current publishers of textbooks to align with curriculum design, it is possible to use these books and still promote global citizenship. Remember this: Black history is much more than just slaver. Expand your views and approach to teaching and learning about the history and cultures outside of your own.