From the Archives: "Curriculum and Controversy"
How would you feel if you opened up your geography textbook and found the following quote:
“Many of the white settlers of this country suffered great cruelties from the Indians, who burned their houses, and murdered men, women, and children, as you see in the picture. At present, there are no savages east of the Mississippi.”
I’m sure you may have noticed at least two ideas that are no longer included in today’s geography textbooks: overtly racist statements and the use of the word “savages” to describe Native Americans.
This may be one of the more extreme examples of textbook evolution in North Carolina’s history, but I was shocked to see that it was circulated to young children in the late 1800’s!
This quote is from a book called First Lessons in Geography: On the Plan of Object Teaching: Designed for Beginners by James Monteith. It was one of the many books used to promote racism to young students through their education.
This book, and many other old and controversial textbooks are currently on display as a part of the “Curriculum and Controversy: Two Centuries of Textbooks in North Carolina” exhibit in the North Carolina Collection Gallery at Wilson Library.
The books on display range from the highly controversial (and sometimes banned) to the modern-day and politically correct.
Some of the less controversial (but still interesting) reads span the entire 200 years of the display’s coverage. These include one of Noah Webster’s (yes, the dictionary guy!) grammar references from the early 1800’s and a screen shot from the new North Carolina History: A Digital Textbook used in 8th grade classrooms today.
This exhibit runs from October 21, 2011 to January 31, 2012.
What do you think? Let Pit Talk know by commenting below!
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