Louann has an interesting post up at Holt and Beyond concerning a fifth grade boy she has undertaken to tutor.
I scrapped the textbook after one night of trying to read it. I swear textbooks destroy brain cells. I told the boy that I didn’t like the book. He looked surprised and then pleased. He said, “It’s boring, isn’t it?”
Boring indeed. And the boy’s perception of that could more easily be evidence of the boy’s intelligence than it is evidence that he is dumb.
And why are history textbooks so awful? Because too many people have input into them. On the one hand, there are committees of “educators” deciding what factoids should be learned by all students. Then the text book is written to include all of the factoids. This renders, at best, a torturous narrative. Then there are the people who monitor all the educational materials to root out any bias they perceive. God forbid a child learns anything that might be ideological.
There is a nearly endless supply of great reading history and biography books, the reading of any one of which would lead to more learning than the entirety of textbooks. But these books can not help but contain some bias or another.
The emphasis on factoids yields very poor results. Few remember the factoids for long and few have any understanding of the forces of history since that was never taught to begin with.
Note: Some of this was posted as a comment to the linked Holt and Beyond post.