Wednesday, May 19, 2010

On Behalf of Students Everywhere

By the end of reading this article, I didn't know what to do. I could cry at the injustice, scream at the people trying to stop students from learning the truth, or just curl up in a tiny ball because I can't do anything. It is unfathomable to me that anyone wants to block the students of our amazing country from learning the truth.

I have grown up in a very tolerant household and school system. I am certainly aware of unfairness existing, but I am always shocked when it hits so close to home.

Texas's Board of Education is going to vote this week on social studies curriculum standards. Social conservatives on the board claim they are trying to "promote patriotism". Where is the line between patriotism and the truth? I love my country and know that it gives me so many wonderful opportunities, but I don't support or agree with everything that has been done in the name of the United States. Does this make me unpatriotic? The fact that I think Thomas Jefferson was a great president because of (and for many other reasons besides) his belief in the separation of church and state makes me unpatriotic. At least according to the Texas Board of Education.

If these amendments pass, they will significantly alter the content of textbooks not only in Texas, but across the country. It will put politics into the history books where it doesn't belong. History books serve to teach the facts about what happened, and leave it up to the reader to make their own judgments and form their own opinions. The judgments and opinions formed by students reading these books will be swayed in one direction, because it won't really be left up to the student to make up their mind. A few Social conservatives on the Texas Board of Education will have made up their minds for them.

My parents have always encouraged me to look at topics from both sides, to question the source before coming to a conclusion. They are both liberals, and have raised me in a liberal household, however; this is a parent's job. It is their job to teach their children their view on the world, where right and wrong fall into those views, and then hopefully leave it up to the child to decide.

It is a parent's job to help form a child and show them what they believe and why. This is not the role of a school or a textbook. A simple history class is meant to inform the student. It is not their job to show the child an opinion, because this detracts from the learning. You cannot learn all the facts and be able to assess them from a neutral point of view if the facts are interspersed with judgments and one group's point of view. And you certainly cannot leave out facts and try to limit what goes into people's heads. Once again, they will not be forming opinions based on the whole truth, merely a distorted part of it.

I consider myself lucky in this respect. I know enough to question people and textbooks, and not merely take everyone at their word. My history textbooks have been pretty good, as far as I can tell (and I know pretty well, having studied American history for eight years out of the past nine, from a different textbook each year), at reporting all the information. Some seem to have slightly favored one side in a war, but never in a blatant way. At least all the pertinent facts were present.

The first time I experienced a lying textbook was this past year in my Health course. Naturally, as part of a health course, there was section on sex ed. I was shocked when the only option presented for teenagers and sex was complete abstinence. This is incorrect and completely misleading. Now, don't get me wrong, I have nothing against abstinence. It is what some people chose to do and it is absolutely the right choice for them. However, teenagers are always going to have sex. That is not going to change. Knowing this fact, other options need to be presented. Like contraceptives, and condoms, and birth control.

Here, again, I feel lucky, because I knew enough to realize that my textbook was not giving me all the information. What really scares me is what happens to the people who don't know any more than what their textbook is telling them. They would never learn about Thomas Jefferson, or the debates over the second amendment and the right to bear arms. A more immediate threat would be having unprotected sex because they weren't taught about any other options.

I believe in this country and I love this country. I love it because I read an article that I disagreed with and was able to write this post. I have stated my opinions loudly and clearly, and you are all welcome to chime in.

I sincerely hope this amendment does not pass. Students need to know what has happened in the past, so they can understand what is happening in the present. Students need to be allowed to form their own opinions based on facts.


Unknown said...

Hi, I just thought I should let you know that you are helping me to restore my faith in 'the young people of today' (does that make me sound like a grandma?). Unfortunately there is so much negative press about teenagers in my part of the world so it is so refreshing to hear from someone so young and filled with dreams and aspirations yet remain so grounded and well composed.
I look forward to reading more.
Del (

Tela said...

thanks. and no, you don't sound like a grandma. i'm glad i am helping to break the teenager stereotype. i hate being judged by that, rather than on who i am. as a person, not a teenager.