Is this 2007, or am I in a time warp?

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!

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5 responses to “Is this 2007, or am I in a time warp?

  1. Yikes!

    “Roman slaves had it much worse off than American antebellum slaves; they didn’t have civil rights.”

    Now that is downright scary! It’s hard to believe that any school would teach from a book like that. No wonder you are so frustrated!

  2. incessanthunger

    I know. This whole thing makes me sick. Last night I went crazy again just thinking about how f-ed up my life has become. 10 years ago, I would have NEVER even considered this option. I was a good kid, but I refused to take part in a religion that belittled and ridiculed others. I wasn’t so afraid of my beliefs and the things I questioned.
    I made a decision based on what made me happy. Sure, I made mistakes, but I knew I had confidence. I knew my parameters and my values. I stood up for things.

    Now, I can’t even decide if I want chicken, or fish! I can’t focus, I am so petrified of decisions and life. I thought age brought wisdom. . .

    WTF happened to my brain?

  3. Oh, I am so sorry you are faced with this. I don’t think I could teach such things either. I am not sure about religion at all, but it seems to me that the beliefs expressed in this book would be against true Christian beliefs. I was raised a Christian and have seen how hypocritical it can all be. I don’t really have any advice, just {{{HUGS}}}. Let us know what you decide.

  4. Don’t sacrifice your values and beliefs for anyone, ever. If you can teach their with out sacrificing your personal feelings then thats fine, and it would benefit the students (you could prevent total brain-washing). But if you are gonna have to teach in opposition to what you know, or believe, is right, then don’t do it. I’ve got your back on this one!

  5. incessanthunger

    Thanks. I really think that I was overreacting and feeling a bit defeated on Monday. I’m certain that the Headmaster would have been frank with me when I first voiced my concerns if he wanted to propogate this author’s beliefs. He assured me that our school values academic excellence and the Socratic method of learning, not indoctrination and teaching “one truth.” After all, he of all people should know that as a discipline, history is not about a one truth. It’s about exploration and analysis. That’s what sets this school apart, is it’s focus on discussion and analysis beyond the dates and events.

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