Quick Takes – Textbook Social Justice: Sexual Orientation As History; Tokenistic Minorities; Misogynistic Economics

     Another “quick takes” on items where there is too little to say to make a complete article, but is still important enough to comment on.

     The focus this time: A textbook case of madness…

     First, a little bit of mood music:

     Carrying on…

     People are included in lessons on history usually because they did something historical. Whether they were Gay or Straight does not detract from their impact. But now it seems that simply being Queer is enough to elevate one to historical significance.

“As a state, California has adopted a fresh take on history: A person’s sexual identity is what matters more than what that person does.

“The state’s board of education has approved ten textbooks that it has deemed ‘inclusive enough,’ and rejected two others that were not, including Houghton Mifflin Harcourt*, one of the top textbooks producers in the United States.


“[C] hildren at this age don’t need to know sexual preference in order to understand what a person has contributed to society. That Emily Dickinson was a lesbian or that Walt Whitman was gay in no way changes the fact that ‘A Noiseless, Patient Spider’ is one of the best poems I read in high school or that every Emily Dickinson poem can be read to the tune of ‘Yellow Rose Of Texas.'”

     Of course, the demand that non-Whites (or “minorities) be included runs at odds with accusations of “tokenizing” non-Whites…

“A team of professors recently criticized K-12 textbooks for failing to explore “societal power dynamics” in their depictions of women and minorities.

“To the surprise of City University of New York professor Sherry Deckman and her colleagues, after reviewing nearly 1,500 images in K-12 textbooks, they discovered that not only are women and racial minorities represented parallel to their representation in the population, but are even slightly over-represented.

“Despite this progress, since racial minorities were barely depicted in textbooks just two decades ago, the team argues that this is actually worrisome, saying the representations of minorities and women have now become ‘superficial’ and ‘tokenistic.’

“This is because minorities are depicted in ways that fail to challenge ‘societal power dynamics,’ which inadvertently leads to the reification of the assumption that society is ‘inherently Eurocentric, male-centric, Christian-centric, [and] heterosexual-centric,’ she writes.”

     Also, economic textbooks seem to exist for one reason: To oppress women or something

“A University of Michigan professor recently argued that the lack of women in Economics textbooks could help explain why few females pursue the field.

“Associate Economics professor Betsey Stevenson and Hanna Zlotnick, a Master of Public Policy candidate, recently reviewed the depictions women and men in eight leading economics textbooks, finding that 77 percent of people represented in those textbooks were male.”


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