". . . But the past does not exist independently from the present. Indeed, the past is only past because there is a present, just as I can point to something over there only because I am here. But nothing is inherently over there or here. In that sense, the past has no content. The past -- or more accurately, pastness -- is a position. Thus, in no way can we identify the past as past." p. 15

". . . But we may want to keep in mind that deeds and words are not as distinguishable as often we presume. History does not belong only to its narrators, professional or amateur. While some of us debate what history is or was, others take it into their own hands." p. 153

Silencing the Past: Power and the Production of History (1995) by Michel-Rolph Trouillot

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Virginia 4th Grade History Textbook Criticized

We read a 1957 Virginia history textbook last night, mandatory for all the Virginia grade schools. Guess what? West Virginia is an unfit subject for 4th grades -- nary a mention of it in its history of the Civil War. Nor a mention of the 200,000 + African Americans who fought in various capacities for the Union -- however, almost all slaves happily stayed on the plantation, or fought the Union. How about that? Also, the history of the United States? It's only Virginia history. We also have the 7th and 11th grade texts that are part of that series for Virginia public education, that we got on Inter Library Loan from the U of VA. They are equal to the 4th grade text.

So if you wonder how we get the o'donnells here you go. War on history taught with facts and real information, which has been going on by the right since at least 1950 -- when all those uppity black men came back from fighting in WWII and Korea. If you couldn't get rid of public education all together, then teach lies. They've taught the lies so well that even the people telling the lies don't know they are lies.

Here's the WaPo story on the contemporary version of this kind of so-called history taughtg in the public schools.
This is the conclusion of the article, about the person who wrote this so-called history book, who, by her own admission, is no historian:
The book also survived the Education Department's vetting and was ruled "accurate and unbiased" by a committee of content specialists and teachers. Five Ponds Press has published 14 books that are used in the Virginia public school system, all of them written by Masoff.
Masoff also wrote "Oh Yuck! The Encyclopedia of Everything Nasty" and "Oh Yikes! History's Grossest Moments."



K. said...

I'm writing about this on Friday.

It's what we were taught. People who weren't there don't believe that it happened, but it did and it's in evidence in our debate today (if you want to dignify the professional wrestling match that the teabaggers pass of as debate).

Foxessa said...

Friday? Today is Thursday and yesterday was Wednesday.

We have quite a few friends, including Peter Gordon, who were grade and jr. h.s. students in Virginia, and they say that's what they were taught too.

And obviously it's true because ... we ... have ... the ... actual ... textbooks. The ones we have are written all over by the students. None of the content they added though is about history in any way.

Evidently for a short period that series from the 50's an embarrassment to the state, so they got rid of all the copies they could. Thus, interlibrary loan from the U of VA, Mr. Jefferson's personal property back in the day. Their collections and archives are superb, and they always keep them accessible for users by ever technical update that comes along the toll road.

Love, C.

Audrey said...

Much of what I learned in the late 1960s and through the 1970s was supplemental material that our teachers added to the core curriculum (in New Jersey). Slavery was certainly in the textbooks but not so much the destruction of the Native American people, as I recall. If it was taught, it didn't stick so I'm thinking that it was glossed over. Coming to think of it, in 7th or 8th grade I did a report on Christopher Columbus, and in it, he was the hero.

I'll e mail you a link to something similar I blogged about on this very topic.

Foxessa said...

Audrey! Please do!

I miss you. We saw Michael, Michelle and Kettia last week at N's show. He shouted K out from the stage so the audience could welcome the youngest U.S. resident in the audience to the country.

They audience LOVED getting to do that.

Love, C.