History teachers often rely on teaching materials and training on topics they’ve never studied — say, the history of Islam. In The Stealth Curriculum, a Fordham Institute report, Sandra Stotsky analyzes the danger that special-interest groups are “manipulating America’s history teachers.”
The source of the problem with many of the supplemental resources used for history or social studies is the ideological mission of the organizations that create them. Their ostensible goal is to combat intolerance, expand students’ knowledge of other cultures, give them other “points of view” on commonly studied historical phenomena, and/or promote “critical thinking.” But their real goal, to judge by an analysis of their materials and the effects they have on teachers, is to influence how children come to understand and think about current social and political issues by bending historical content to those ends. They embed their political agendas in the instructional materials they create so subtly that apolitical teachers are unlikely to spot them. And they tend to facilitate acceptance of their materials by appealing to teachers’ sense of fairness and their presumed obligation to promote “social justice” and withhold negative moral judgments about people or cultures deemed victims of white racism.
Do you want Saudi Arabia to provide the curriculum guide on Islam used by your children’s teachers?
Via Education Gadfly.
By the way, Walter McDougall’s Freedom Just Around the Corner : A New American History: 1585-1828 is getting rave reviews. Here’s his intro:
The creation of the United States of America is the central event of the past four hundred years. If some ghostly ship, some Flying Dutchman, were transported in time from the year 1600 into the present, the crew would be amazed by our technology and the sheer numbers of people on the globe, but the array of civilizations would be recognizable. There is today, as there was then: a huge Chinese Empire run by an authoritarian but beleaguered bureaucracy; a homogeneous, anxious, suspicious Japan; a teeming crazy-quilt of Hindus and Muslims in India attempting to make a state of themselves; an amorphous Russian empire pulsing outward or inward in proportion to Muscovy’s projection of force; a vast Islamic crescent hostile to infidels but beset by rival centers of power; a dynamic, more-or-less Christian civilization in Europe aspiring to unity but vexed by its dense congeries of nations and tongues; and finally an Iberian/Amerindian culture in South America marked by relative poverty and strategic impotence. The only continent that would astound the Renaissance time-travelers would be North America, which was primitive and nearly vacant as late as 1607, but which today hosts the mightiest, richest, most creative civilization on earth — a civilization, moreover, that perturbs the trajectories of all other civilizations just by existing.
Perturbs the trajectories. I think that means we irritate the French.