Friday, June 25, 2010

A Historical Change in Education

Recently, there has been consistent debate and discussion on television and newspapers about the huge, impending change to textbooks in America. Bemused? This might explain a little

Basically a group of people who are on the Texas Board of Education have decided that major changes must be made to history and social studies textbooks. These people are ultra-conservative Republicans and some of the changes they made included a right-wing conservative outlook at history.

Members of the Texas Board of Education are everyday people. Parents, who have day jobs and also happen to be part of the board. There are lawyers and real-estate professionals determining what the country will study, how minds will be shaped and just how the next generation will think.

According to the New York Times, the changed curriculum will put a ''conservative stamp on history and economics, stressing the superiority of American Capitalism, questioning the Founding Father's commitment to secularism and presenting Republican philosophies in a positive light.'' For instance the Board decided to remove Thomas Jefferson and replace him with a more right-wing icon, John Calvin. Or that textbooks will now call the US government a ''constitutional republic'' and not a ''democratic'' one anymore. Henceforth, there will be a stronger focus on biblical and Christian traditions.

Which led me to think, if as students we were governed by a board that decided that Darwin and his theories were completely baseless or that including Gandhi and his efforts for our independence was just a waste of space, what kind of people would we have grown up to be? Or an even scarier thought, what if the CBSE, ICSE, NCERT have eliminated certain crucial parts of history and highlighted the rest?

Isn't education about presenting all possible points of view to students so that they can discern right from wrong? Isn't education about making the student capable enough to choose one point of view and be able to explain his choice when opposed? How is it fair for a small group of people to decide that this is the gospel truth and this is what will be studied from now on.

The changes to the textbooks will be effective from August 2011, through to the next decade. Which means a whole generation of students growing up on a myopic view of social studies. Scary thought isn't it?

(Rati Ramadas has worked as a journalist for 4 years and covered education for the greater part of that. Education and new methods of schooling has always intrigued her. She loves writing short stories and hope to publish some someday.She blogs and rants about day to day life and travels at Odds and Mi)

Image Source : azrasta

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