We Fail To Teach Because We Are Afraid of What Will Be Learned

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.

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