Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Texan textbooks: Hallucinations that may backfire

Another reason why friends don't let friends live in Texas ...
Editorial - Rewriting History in Texas - NYTimes.com

... The Texas Board of Education, notorious for its past efforts to undermine the teaching of evolution in public schools, has now moved to revise the social studies curriculum to portray conservative ideas and movements in a more positive light and emphasize the role of Christianity in the nation’s founding.
Clearly a loss for Reason in Texas, but, really, there wasn't much to lose. Publishers have been anticipating this, textbooks are being designed so that Texas-specific editions can be inexpensively created.

Even if the these books were widely read though, the consequences may be unexpected. I have some personal experience to share on this.

I grew up in a theocratic state. My public school history book was written by the Catholic church. I wish I'd stolen a copy; it may be the only book written in modern times praising the Children's Crusade as a noble cause.

How did we react to these books? Most of the students paid no attention to history at all, but the smarter students got angry. Whatever the impact of propaganda on individual students, the theocratic state shortly self-destructed. Within 10 years Quebec's Quiet Revolution swept the church away.

Farther afield, the communist propaganda of 1960s China laid the foundations for the most rabidly capitalistic state in modern history.

Who knows? Perhaps the 2010 Texas board of education is laying the foundations for an Enlightenment 2.0 Texas of 2025.

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