I swear to Bob that every time I start feeling good about teaching at my LPS this fall, something goes awry.
Case in point: The textbook sucks. And I’m not just talking about boring content or too deep for middle school, but it’s so closed- minded. Granted, I understand that this is a Christian school, but when the text is so bigoted and just wrong that it makes me even question whether or not I’m Christian enough, then we have a problem. I won’t go into too much detail, but suffice it to say that the guy who wrote this book is swamped with controversy about his neo-Confederate beliefs, and he believes that Vergil’s Aeneid must be taught to students because it’s satanic, not because it’s one of it’s complexity and cultural significance. According to the author, the literary motifs of death and rebirth in the Aeneid are satanic. Case closed. That’s just ridiculous.
Instead of putting all sides of the argument out there for the teacher and students to discuss, he makes blanket statements such as “The Romans did not value human life.” “The Romans, much like modern day Americans, promoted “tolerance,” instead of the one true faith.” Since when is tolerance a bad thing? What does he suppose we do, start stock-piling automatic weapons in order to start the great 21st century Inquisition? You’ve got to be kidding me.
“Roman slaves had it much worse off than American antebellum slaves; they didn’t have civil rights.” Um. Last time I checked the fight for civil rights didn’t come to play until the late 1950s-1960s, and it can be argued that it is still going on today. And does he really want to play the game of whose slavery was worse?
I’m not defending the Romans, but it makes me livid to imagine that such a vibrant cultural influence is being belittled and simplified to what this author believes is the truth. Of course, these are just a few of the many problems I have with this text.
One of the other teachers, when she saw that I had the new “textbook,” was so happy. “You’ll love it. You should use it for your curriculum–it has tests, study questions, it has everything you need, right there.” She didn’t mention anything about bigotry, intolerance, condemnation, racism and judgement. I guess that’s all too intimate of a conversation for the old hat teacher and the newbie to have long before the first day of school. I said, “yeah, I might use it as a loose guide.” She retorts, “No, it’s excellent. Really good stuff. Use it.” Did I mention she has 2 children in the school, and I’m sure she has many of the “last words” on curriculum.
My headmaster only presented it to me as a guide. “You don’t have to use it, but here it is.” He already knows how I feel about the author–we’ve had a run in about some of the other books the author has written that I’m just not comfortable with. For fuck’s sake (I know, that’s probably not really Christian of me, but I’m mad), why is it that every thing I get excited about is never what it seems. I don’t want to compromise my beliefs, but I refuse to use a textbook that makes me feel like my Christianity is wrong, and that openly condemns Catholicism, Islam, and Judaism, and teaches such close-mindedness to kids. It’s the same God!!
What have I gotten myself into? I’ve gotta get out of here!