Thursday, October 21, 2010

So very, very wrong

According to the Washington Post,
"A textbook distributed to Virginia fourth-graders says that thousands of African Americans fought for the South during the Civil War--a claim rejected by most historians but often made by groups seeking to play down slavery's role as a cause of the conflict."
The author of the textbook, Joy Masoff, is a professional writer rather than a trained historian, and says she discovered this information via "Internet research". While I was naturally disturbed by this story, I was even MORE disturbed by the discovery that apparently school textbooks like this one are written by one person. This never occurred to me: I assumed textbooks were written by committee, thereby ensuring that more than one author's perspective was included.

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Blogger Sheryl said...

At least a second person -- an editor -- should be involved. But I guess that editors are considered unnecessary in a world where "I read it on the Internet somewhere" counts as legitimate research. This isn't the only place where I've seen editors needed and absent, but it's even more disheartening than some.

12:14 PM

Blogger Yulianka said...

Seriously, this story just blows my mind. I'm assuming there was editorial control somewhere (although obviously not EFFECTIVE editorial control), but I would expect there would be more than one author involved because one person, no matter how well-informed, can't be expected to write a comprehensive text on a subject as large as US History. How would they know what to include? What balance to strike between, say, discussion of the Revolutionary War and Prohibition? How can ONE PERSON make that many decisions without screwing some (or many) of 'em up?

6:33 PM


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