Some have downplayed the distortions of the Texas textbooks by claiming that good teachers will compensate for the shortcomings of the books. But what if those good teachers are few and far in between? Alia Wong addresses this problem in a thoughtful piece at The Atlantic.
“Perhaps many of these controversies trace back to the history-class dilemma—the reality that its instruction often suffers because of under-qualified or under-engaged teachers who, in turn, rely on textbooks that at best oversimplify and at worst flat out lie. ‘Most history teachers don’t do history, and don’t know how to do history,’ Loewen said. ‘And by that, I mean they were never asked to actually research something. They just took courses with textbooks and that was it.’”
This is a serious problem and we need to rethink how we train our social science teachers. Many of them don’t have the knowledge or the skills to teach history in a way that is both meaningful and beneficial to students.
Another obstacle to the effective teaching of history, not mentioned in the article, but is as equally important is the fact that too many good teachers are forced to focus on content over critical thinking in order to prepare their students for standardized tests. The focus on testing has done a great deal of harm to our education system, and even though many are beginning to realize the folly of this testing craze the so-called “reformers” of education continue to push them.
Please read the important essay here: Lessons From McGraw Hill: The Eurocentric Influence on History Textbooks and Classrooms – The Atlantic