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The Language Police How Pressure Groups Restrict What Students Learn by Diane Ravitch - Im Okay Youre Okay Gone Psychotic

The Language Police How Pressure Groups Restrict What Students Learn by Diane Ravitch - Im Okay Youre Okay Gone Psychotic

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07/28/2013

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The Language Police: How Pressure Groups Restrict What Students Learn by Diane Ravitch

I'm Okay, You're Okay! Gone Psychotic.

The impulse in the 1960s and ‘70s to achieve fairness and a balanced perspective in our nation’s textbooks and standardized exams was undeniably necessary and commendable. Then how could it have gone so terribly wrong? Acclaimed education historian Diane Ravitch answers this question in her informative and alarming book, The Language Police: How Pressure Groups Restrict What Students Learn. Author of 7 books, Ravitch served as the U.S. Assistant Secretary of Education from 1991 to 1993. Her expertise and her 30-year commitment to education lend authority and urgency to this important book, which describes in copious detail how pressure groups from the political right and left have wrested control of the language and content of textbooks and standardized exams, often at the expense of the truth (in the case of history), of literary quality (in the case of literature), and of education in general. Like most people involved in education, Ravitch did not realize that educational materials are now governed by an intricate set of rules to screen out language and topics that might be considered controversial or offensive. In this clear eyed critique, she is an unapologetic challenger of the ridiculous and damaging extremes to which bias guidelines and sensitivity training ha ve been taken by the federal government, the states, and textbook publishers. In a multi-page sampling of rejected test passages, we discover that in the new meaning of bias, it its considered biased to acknowledge that lack of sight is a disability, that children who live in urban areas cannot understand passages about the country, that the Aesop fable about a vain (female) fox and a flattering (male) crow promotes gender bias. As outrageous as many of the examples are, they do not app ear particularly dangerous. However, as the illustrations of abridgment, expurgation, and bowdlerization mount, the reader begins to understand that our educational system is indeed facing a monumental crisis of distortion and censorship. Ravitich ends her book with three suggestions of how to

counter this disturbing tendency. Sadly, however, in the face of the overwhelming tide of misinformation that has already been entrenched in the system, her suggestions provide cold comfort. --Silvana Tropea Features: * Click here to view our Condition Guide and Shipping Prices Diane Ravitch has written an extremely important book about censorship from the left and the right, and how it harms students' education. From the feminists and multiculturalists on the left to the fundamentalists on the right, extremists of all stripes have agendas that they want to impose on American students. By purging history and literature textbooks, tests, and other learning material at the same time of both anything that portrays men in a positive role and anything anti-Christian, learning materials have become boring, false, and skewed. Ravitch explains in-depth what organizations are responsible for the censorship from both sides, and gives examples of how it harms America's students. One of the best part of the books is one of the appendices at the end, called "The AtkinsonRavitch Sampler of Classic Literature." It is a list of suggested reading-genuine classics--for students in grades three through ten. I have published it in my own profile in listmania lists, so feel free to view it. Ravitch stands for a return to honesty and the fostering of real intellect in public education, not just social issues and watered-down language. "Instead of presenting conflicting views and letting students debate ideas, the textbooks tell them what they are supposed to believe. They pretend to their readers that every historical question has an answer, and they know what it is." (page 149) As we can see, history is no longer taught neutrally. Childr en learn about World War Two from, say, a socialist perspective, or a feminist perspective, as ridiculous as that sounds. Ravitch shows how information is slandered to respect all cultures but American and European cultures. "[Education officials] seem to be embarrased to admit that our culture--like other cultures--has a heritage. By their timidity, they disconnect American youngsters from the great works of literature that inspired earlier generations of students." (page 126) Goodbye Whitman, Melville, and Cooper, hello Sandra Cisneros, Maya Angelou, and Rudolfo Anaya. The state of literary education has become so politicized in American classrooms that every book must pander to the sensitivities of all minorities and all "oppressed" groups. I can tell y ou this from personal experience. I'm a (male) high school student who loves reading, yet hates English class. Why? Because, instead of exploring interesting classics with real relevance to our heritage, we're always reading feminist books and other books that would not remotely be considered classics. Every male character is reviled or laughed at, and every female character is exalted. It's tiresome and I want it to stop.

Restore genuine education and stop the language police. I whole-heartedly recommend this most important book, by a writer who is an expert in her field.

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