Horrors in Education

Recently, I caught wind of news that “[s]tudents in [a] [Texas] district spen[t] two days watching what lesson plans describe a[s] “the historic documentary Ancient Aliens,” which presents “a new interpretation of angelic beings described as extraterrestrials.”. By coincidence, I also happened to stumble upon this gem from Madalyn Murray O’Hair as imagined by William Murray:

One time, his mother [O’Hair] read through his junior high history book and made this comment: “I can’t believe all the hogwash in there. It treats the parting of the Red Sea just like it really happened. It’s incredible! Later on it talks about Jesus and says he was the son of God, that he performed miracles and rose from the dead. [Expletive] stuff I ever read. It has no place in a public school textbook!”

-Amen! This reminded me of a certain textbook (actually used in government schools in America!) I remember looking at around early-mid 2010. Take a look at its section on The Ancient Hebrews and the Origins of Judaism. Compare it with the first part of my ‘Non-Biblical History‘. Weep a little. Look at the hopelessly unsatisfactory second section on Judaism. Sigh. Notice the nonsensical Persian Gulf coastline on page 114. Sigh deeper. Notice the absence of any attempt to connect the development of the Jewish religion with actual Jewish history (except on page 116). The description of the physical geography of Canaan (yes, Canaan, not the more conventional “Palestine”) is somewhat satisfactory, but utterly lacking in any analysis of how Canaan’s geography impacted its people’s history. It also utterly fails to mention the olive and the grape and their fundamental roles in the lives of the people of the central hill country of Canaan. I recall an anecdote of a student in a class using this textbook in which the student claimed his teacher had marked him down on a test or quiz for failing to mention the navigability of the Jordan (which, in fact, is almost non-existent). In short, the state of education about the history of Judaism (and Palestine in general) in America is dismal, at best.

In other old news, I also recall I once notified Pearson for confusing Assyrians and Sea Peoples on page 65 of this book, the image of the “Soldiers of Shalmaneser III in Battle” being captioned “Soldiers of Ramses III in Battle” and visa versa.

Author: pithom

An atheist with an interest in the history of the ancient Near East. Author of the Against Jebel al-Lawz Wordpress blog.

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