02 January 2011

History is Bunk

At least in the state of Virginia which has adopted history texts written by a non-historian for the ignorant chosen by the inept. Here's an snippet of an editorial in today's Washington Post:
Among the mistakes: wrong date for America's entry into World War I, incorrect tally of states that joined the Confederacy, gross understatement of casualties at the battles of Bull Run. "I absolutely could not believe the number of mistakes - wrong dates and wrong facts everywhere," said Ronald Heinemann, one of the historians who reviewed Five Ponds Press's "Our Virginia: Past and Present." Reviewing another of the publisher's books, historian Mary Miley Theobald concluded the mistakes were "just too shocking for words." The unusual review of the books followed the disclosure by The Post's Kevin Sieff in October that "Our Virginia" included the statement (quite incorrect) that thousands of black soldiers fought for the South during the Civil War.

This is embarrassing on so many levels. Just for the record, when in the final desperate days of the Confederacy Gen. Lee pleaded with the politicians to let him recruit slaves with the promise of freedom the politicians told him no way. Then the Confederacy was put out of its misery.

It seems to be a collision between political and financial constraints. I.e. the books were cheap and they didn't ruffle any ideological feathers.

you get what you pay for.


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At 02 January, 2011 22:33, Anonymous Maire said...

Sounds like a great opportunity for history teachers in VA. Get the kids back to the primary sources and have them play "spot the mistakes" for credit. I've done it will college students, and kids do love to feel superior to a text written by "experts." Of course, I'd hate the teacher to get into trouble for showing up the book foisted on him.her, but if enough teachers embrace the "teaching moment" it could start a revolution! The pedagogy of a bad textbook....


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