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A random rant about elementary school history textbook

kelsmomkelsmom Posts: 12,504Super Moderator Senior Member
edited February 2008 in Parent Cafe
I just have to rant. Gee, I love this place!

I subbed in a fourth grade class today. I taught a history lesson from the new textbook the district bought. The curriculum for fourth grade is the history of our state. The textbook is so awful I was absolutely appalled!! I swear it must have been written BY 4th graders!! The sentence structure is terrible. The text is obviously meant to be "chatty." Many sentences begin with "Well," ... many have what appears to be conversation that is not written as conversation (that is, no quotation marks) ... some sentences are sentence fragments ... etc.

EEEKKKK ... I do believe the dumbing down of our state's children is real!!!!
Post edited by kelsmom on
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Replies to: A random rant about elementary school history textbook

  • arachnophobia12arachnophobia12 Posts: 2,722Registered User Senior Member
    NCLB at its finest, I suppose... :p
  • citygirlsmomcitygirlsmom Posts: 13,158- Senior Member
    or somebody thought the book salesperson was HOT....this is a government contract and some muckymuch picked that book for a reason...and bet it had to do with the dumbing down...or someone got a "rebate"
  • kelsmomkelsmom Posts: 12,504Super Moderator Senior Member
    Probably! I will be returning to that classroom tomorrow, and I am going to jot down a couple examples to share with all of you. I just have to get your reaction! I promise to post after school ...
  • asdfjkl1asdfjkl1 Posts: 1,950Registered User Senior Member
    Well, it was probably due to a low bid on it. I wonder why the bid was probably low..
  • paying3tuitionspaying3tuitions Posts: 13,328Super Moderator Senior Member
    Textbook content is always interesting, too. We were living in Canada happily as Americans (became dual citizens there) until my S came home from 7th grade and said, "We Canadians really whupped you in the War of l812!." My H asked to see his textbook, and sure enough that was the Canadian version. In the US, we learned it was a draw.

    Well, there were other reasons for us to return to the U.S., but that's the one we enjoy telling most. Everything else about Canada was fine, just that War of l812 yarn they spin. :)

    Looking forward to your examples of silly language tomorrow..!
  • TimeCruncherTimeCruncher Posts: 243Registered User Junior Member
    I can give you some inside information about this topic, because Pre-K through 12 textbook publishing was my former career.

    School textbooks have definitely been dumbed-down to accommodate educational faddists, special interest groups, and like-minded politicos (serving on local school boards and state textbook adoption committees) who promote the idiotic notion that students benefit more when challenged less, and that K-12 textbooks should be entertaining rather than informative.

    Textbook publishers have responded to the demand for garbage by producing garbage, because garbage sells. State textbook adoption competition is brutal. Each publisher wants its textbooks to make the cut, and will do whatever's necessary to make its textbooks appealing to the heavy-hitter states of California, Florida, Illinois, New York, Ohio, and Texas. (Textbooks adopted by those states are likely to be considered for adoption in most other states.) In my former high-profile publishing company, "whatever's necessary" included signing up politically correct and/or regionally influential "authors" and "consultants" who contributed little to their books other than their names. Most of our textbooks were written in-house by editorial staffers, some of whom either had no background in education, or no background in the academic subject for which they were writing. Most staffers had never written professionally prior to being hired. Several staffers even lacked a college degree. Editors often farmed out excess work to freelance writers with even lesser skills and experience. Meanwhile, the lofty "authors" dropped in just long enough to meet and greet, sign their high-figure contracts, and have a liquid lunch with the top brass. Then they went back to wherever they came from; we never saw and rarely heard from them again.

    I am proud to say that my textbook publishing company didn't produce garbage... back then. However, by the time my D started kindergarten in 1996, I had been out of textbook publishing for nearly ten years. I, too, was appalled by the sharp decline in K-12 textbook quality. I began supplementing my D's school-assigned garbage textbooks with older, better-quality textbooks (and even with college-level textbooks) acquired from the public library, used bookstores, thrift shops, yard sales, and wherever else I could find them. (For those of you with children still in K-12, I recommend you do the same.)

    If educational faddists continue to demand garbage textbooks, that's exactly what the textbook publishers will produce. If there's a demand for quality textbooks, the publishers will deliver.
  • 2331clk2331clk Posts: 1,656Registered User Senior Member
    How depressing. It's no wonder so many kids can't write.

    "The curriculum for fourth grade is the history of our state." I hope that's not all there is for 4th gr history. What about the poor kids who have to move to another state at the end of the year?

    Please do share some more examples.
  • Muffy333Muffy333 Posts: 2,063Registered User Senior Member
    My kids didn't have textbooks in elementary school; they had a lot of photocopied paper. I do remember a paperback book on preparing for the state standardized tests, though.
  • mathmommathmom Posts: 23,253Registered User Senior Member
    NY's fourth grade curriculum is also state history. I don't actually mind - I'm not a native New Yorker by the way. The good thing about it is that you can do local history - delving into primary sources like the picture archives at the library. They also went to local history museums. Because we are in NY immigration is a big part of the curriculum. Anyway, I think they learned more about how historians work that year than other years. It's just one year. I'm more worried about school systems like Texas where the history curriculum seems to be American or Texas history 9 out of 10 years.
  • andreaaaaaaandreaaaaaa Posts: 7,930Registered User Senior Member
    i had state history in fourth grade as well, here in washington. then again in ninth grade.
  • mommusicmommusic Posts: 8,301Registered User Senior Member
    I can see a history textbook being "chatty" at the 4th grade level...as long as the facts are correct. At that age you want them to enjoy reading the book and see history as interesting.

    I think it's standard for State history to be taught in 4th grade. It was in Va., where I grew up, and it is in Ohio.
    I remember a lot of Va. history to this day. 4th grade was the first year we had to take a lot of notes--the teacher wrote in cursive on the blackboard and we wrote until our hands were tired. We felt like we were in college and 3rd grade was a distant, baby memory.
  • mommusicmommusic Posts: 8,301Registered User Senior Member
    Richard Feynman writes in one of his books about being on the board to review textbooks. Some of his colleagues wrote reviews of books they had never seen! (A series of books sometimes was incomplete, and reviewers would just check off the boxes anyway.) He was appalled, and they were surprised he was such a stickler.
  • StickerShockStickerShock Posts: 3,781Registered User Senior Member
    NCLB is a desperate attempt to fix the damage decades of academic faddists have caused. Time Cruncher is correct.
  • citygirlsmomcitygirlsmom Posts: 13,158- Senior Member
    NCLB is NOT an attempt to fix damage...it has created much more damage....if it was a FIX there would be some $$ behind it....
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