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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/12230/the-texas-textbook-wars/

The Texas Textbook Wars

March 17, 2010 by

It may be difficult to understand at first why the members of the Texas Board of Education consider Aquinas, Calvin, and Blackstone more worthy of study than Thomas Jefferson. FULL ARTICLE by Jeff Riggenbach


Jack's Pipe March 17, 2010 at 8:22 pm

This libertarian happens to think that Calvin is very worthy of study, a supreme thinker and theologian. However, the real problem here is public education itself. No one should be forced to subsidize the education of others.

Havvy March 17, 2010 at 9:51 pm

I never took a world history class, though I am taking a class called “Contemporary World Solutions”. The class I am taking has two teachers (one English, one History), and there is no textbook for it. We do have books we have to read, and we discuss the reasons for various events in the class. It’s a better way to learn history IMO.

Neta March 18, 2010 at 2:10 am

Studies about Calvin are probably a good thing for the current course of education, which hardly ever mentions him. But that doesn’t constitute leaving Jefferson out. I understand why a state would be interested in insuring that the younger generation shares common ideas with their elders; and for this reason I believe that Texas’ monopoly over the country’s textbooks needs to come to a stop. If every state and region doesn’t choose it’s own texts, Texas is well aware of that and is using it to their advantage. That’s why I believe that if some regions so choose, they may teach Calvin over Jefferson, but those regions shouldn’t completely dominate the rest of the nation’s educational decision.

g schramski March 18, 2010 at 11:29 pm

As a former history teacher I understand what you a saying. I was taught American history in college from a text book. As a teacher I could never seem to find time to read good books. I feel since rertiring I have increased my knowledge 1000%. I now read good books on many subjects and if i were to go back to teaching i think I could be a much better teacher.

The time is too late for that and it is a shame. So often we become educated after our time is up and we can’t go back and do it over. Our best bet is to educate the persons around us.

Another problem is finding the good books and material for students to use. Many schools and areas lack the necesary resources and are unable to get them. The principal thinks one text book per student is enough. Politics plays a big role in this whole thing. I lost one job because I spoke out against Joe McCarthy.(How many students even know who he was)

g schramski March 18, 2010 at 11:49 pm

I belong to a library that covers one half of northern Wisconsin. I could not find one single book in this library on Ludwig von Mises. I will try to jack them up in order to get some good literature.

R.P. McCosker March 19, 2010 at 1:42 am

Though I think I’m reasonably self-educated in history, I didn’t learn much of it via my 7–12 education (7–8, “intermediate school”; 9–12, “high school”) in my suburban, upper middle-class “public” schools in early-1970s California.

In 7th grade, I had a required daily class in “World History.” The teacher thought it was extremely important to “think,” as she put it, which consisted in class of continuously posing questions for us to ponder aloud. She had a map of the class at her lecturn and kept putting in credit if people raised their hands and answered her questions thoughtfully. Not much fact, mainly just “thinking” aloud in response to the teacher. We only got to about 1300 AD by the end of the school year: I kid you not, as Jack Paar famously kept saying on his old talk show.

In 8th, “American History” was required. The first semester we used as a text a pocketbook about prerevolutionary colonial America. The second semester — non sequitur, anyone? — we memorized the Constitution. Th-th-that’s all, folks. In 9th, “World History & Geography” was required. The first day of class the teacher announced that, class name notwithstanding, the class was really — and he wrote this up on the chalkboard — “Introduction to the Social Sciences.” You can read about history, but, he declared, what was really important was to “think.” To “think” as a “social scientist.” What followed was a year of rambling meanderings about political issues — I particularly remember we had to read a lengthy excerpt from socialist Michael Harrington’s _The Other America_ and some article by socialist economist Robert Heilbroner — always of a mind to mold us into leftists. (Aside: it was this year that I began reading Mises’s _Human Action_ and other things such that I became a libertarian-oriented conservative. After I grew up, though, I realized political conservatism was for the birds and became a full-blown libertarian.)

In 10th, there was no required “History” or “Social Studies” class, but I opted for “California History.” The teacher was a longwinded would-be raconteur who’d talk a lot and never convey much to the point of anything. He was my high school’s head baseball coach, and when baseball season came around, most days he’d say, “The weather’s great today. Why don’t you all go out an enjoy the California history garden?” He’s send us out to the garden, then take off for the rest of the class. In the distance you could see him chalking the lines on the baseball diamond. At the end of the school year, we’d gotten to 1849 in California history — you know, the earliest stage of the Gold Rush. Again, I kid you not.

In 11th, “American History” was required. The first day the teacher announced that the purpose of the class was to get us to “think,” so we’d be studying “units” (themes, really) in American history. In short, we never got any chronological presentation, just disorganized themes bouncing around history, stuff like “civil rights” and “the rise of organized labor” and “the Cold War.” Somehow things like the American Revolution, the Civil War, and the World Wars didn’t come up.

In 12th, “American Government/elective” was required. The first semester, American Government, was another “unit” thing like the aforementioned “American History,” and, like my 9th-grade teacher, this teacher loved to use the class to inculcate “liberal”-left “thinking.” The second semester one had to choose from a “Social Studies” elective. I remember there was “Sociology” and “Foreign Relations,” though possibly there was some other option. I chose “Foreign Relations” — which turned out to be more of the same stuff from this same 12th grade teacher — though in retrospect I wish I’d chosen “Sociology,” since all the subpar students took that and it would’ve been a virtually effortless “A”, so long as I’d regurgitated to that class’s teacher all the leftist answers he predictably would’ve wanted to hear.

Remember, these classes were all at “good” schools, in a middle-of-the-road upper middle-class suburb.

fakename June 24, 2010 at 2:29 pm

Curious, Mr.McCosker, did your teachers discourage right-wing thinking in class and/or not encourage it or was the lack of balance a result of some other factor?

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