Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Another reason to homeschool

Evidently, a high school literature textbook wastes 15 pages on Barack Obama's "Dreams From My Father." Now no disrespect intended to the Senator, but it used to be that one would wait until at least after an election, if not a few decades before deciding that a particular work really belonged in the canon of great literature.

I would also have to guess that if I took a good look at this book (and I don't intend to), it probably turns out that the inclusion of Obama's work is one of the lesser sins of those who put the text together. After all, 15 pages for Obama is 15 pages that cannot be used for those "lesser lights" like Shakespeare, Milton, Chaucer, Dickens, and so on.

H/T Bear Creek Ledger

Afterthought: it's probably worth noting that the very fact that schools would use a textbook to teach great literature, instead of the literature itself, ought to persuade us that our government schools have absolutely no clue about how to teach literature and writing!

8 comments:

Keith said...

Oh my... sad and true - though anthologies do have their uses, they are not sufficient and always biased. Read it all (says the English major who read all too little...)!

Bike Bubba said...

Here's the title.

http://www.classzone.com/cz/books/ml_lit_gr08/book_home.htm?state=WI

Worse than you'd thought, it doesn't even appear to be an anthology. It's a text, hence most of the words are going to be those of everyday teachers, not literary greats.

At least McGuffey's literary selections are mostly the literature.

Oh, and welcome here!

Gino said...

ronald reagan was a better writer than obama could ever be.

ever read the letters he wrote to nancy?

he was good, and could have made a living with his writing.

pentamom said...

Back onto my hobbyhorse:

It's another reason to homeschool well. Granted you aren't going to get the Obama nonsense out of homeschooling-oriented materials, but you will get the literature texts (which are not all bad, since the good ones just contain samples of literature in convenient, organized, annotated form, though others are pretty abysmal) and other ripoffs of the public school methodology. Conversely, there are non-public, non-home schools that do things well also, and even a limited number of public schools.

Bike Bubba said...

Pentamom--well said, though I'd argue that a "text" that is predominantly samples of great literature really qualifies as more of an "anthology" than a mere "text."

One question; how is it that we are "not" going to get the Obama nonsense out of homeschooling oriented materials? Methinks that Veritas Press tends to do a decent job of just that.

pentamom said...

Huh, okay, I thought I posted this yesterday, but must have messed up. Here I go again:

I worded it badly. By "get the Obama nonsense out of" I meant "derive the Obama nonsense from," not "remove the Obama nonsense from." My apologies, that was extremely misleading.

And on my larger point, Veritas aside, what I mostly meant is that there is still way too much homeschool curriculum that follows the "same song, different verse" model of PS curriculum. The methodology is the same, the mentality is even much the same, just that the "values" it promotes are different, in a baptized, Christianly correct sort of way. A lit text full of evangelical boilerplate or even carefully selected and "approved" mainstream works that does not place things in an appropriate cultural context nor really interact with the literature except to ask kids a series of stock questions about how the characters do, or do not, fulfill specific biblical injunctions, is only very marginally better than the same sort of thing from a liberal point of view. What little positive the kids get from it is something, but it still represents a failure to teach kids to read and understand literature, and fails to give them an understanding of the literary tradition of their culture. There are, as you note, excellent exceptions, but the Big Guns of the homeschool world still largely follow this model.

Just a hobbyhorse of mine, I guess.

Bike Bubba said...

In other words, you're saying that too many homeschool books (texts/anthologies/whatever) are merely "baptized" versions of the same government/factory school methods that people like Linda Schrock Taylor, John Taylor Gatto, and others rightly despise.

Did I get that about right? If so, agreed.

pentamom said...

Yep. And besides the simple truth of that statement, it bugs me that there are those who simply swallow the idea that they're providing a superior education for their kids because 1) it's at home and 2) it's "Christian." I would almost be prepared to argue that kids would be better off in some government education settings, than in "Christian homeschooling" that doesn't really get to the heart of education.