Discover a New Perspective, Throw away the Textbook.
BY ROBERT CELLUCCI ON OCTOBER 18, 2013
The point of education shouldn’t be to teach a side, but in the American education curriculum there seems to be only one truth, one perspective taught in school, the American one. We’re not taught to think critically or logically, and I blame textbooks. Textbooks only show one perspective from which conformity is inspired and critical thinking is killed. The curriculum that’s stuffed in these things tells us what is true and then proceeds to make our rebels obedient and our madmen mice, making the most daring of human achievement seem no more important than the dull of our lives. They leave us only to hope for exceptional teachers because the books themselves are insufficient. Rarely anymore do you have the opportunity to read the original of anything, and the plague of textbooks with slightly more educational value than excrement has deprived us of that. We have edited versions and abridged versions and summarizations. SparkNotes and other supplemental garbage. Pahtoo-ee! Don't worry, the English textbooks will tell you what the stories mean! Where is our opinion? Have you been asked once for your opinion on what the story means? Or are you being read what it “truly” means? Textbooks don't ask you to think. Shouldn’t the meaning of a story be ours to decide? Mr. Keating would be ashamed of us. What? Dead poets society? Nobody? Just me?
On rare occasions, exceptional teachers and AP-like classroom discussions can save the education of our future, however this is not the norm. Perception is reality, so when textbooks limit our perceptions as youth, we lose something. For example, Lincoln, “the Great American Hero”! Or “The Tyrant”? How many of you knew he was labeled as such in his own time period, before you watched A MOVIE about him? That should tell you something. When we learn more from movies than textbooks, something seriously wrong is going on there. Lincoln is only looked at as a hero, and he’s not the only one. There’s always more sides, and the fact is, no textbook will talk about that. In a history classroom, how many of you get to read from the perspective of the loser? Where is “A People’s History of the United States” by Howard Zinn?
That book, without any doubt, should be lining the shelves of every history classroom, if not under the desks of every student that says “history is boring.” Where are the minorities’ perspectives, the losers’, the creative, the different, where is the rest of us?
Textbooks are not helping us to think. How many people near you (go ahead, count) can think logically? How many people that you know can actually think for themselves, or question why something is the way it is? No one is taught to think for themselves anymore.They’re told how things ARE, never WHY ,and it shows because its what our textbooks seem to be built to do. Textbooks should be teaching us NOT what to think but how to think. We spend our entire lives searching for something and those that came before us in history, in math, in science, in English, in poetry, in art, rebelled to find something, to walk on new ground and the textbooks are written in a way that makes these people boring. Pretty much everything Mercutio says in Romeo and Juliet is about sex. It’s hilarious, but it’s boring because the textbooks brush over those parts, no one analyzes that part of the story. These giants are being reduced to “How much I hated reading Shakespeare in class.” It’s about the little guy. The rebels, The misunderstood etc. But textbooks seem to lose that.
No longer. “Tear out the entire introduction.”
Show every side. Throw away holt “The Elements of Literature” and its cohorts in mediocrity, and put something in the classroom that enable our teachers to show us something that will really “set our souls on fire.”