Meta Textbooks?

Friday’s Washington Post said:

With two new manuals for high school history and social studies teachers, written in part by Kremlin political consultants, Russian authorities are attempting to imbue classroom debate with a nationalist outlook.

The history guide contains a laudatory review of President Vladimir Putin’s years in power. "We see that practically every significant deed is connected with the name and activity of President V.V. Putin," declares its last chapter. The social studies guide is marked by intense hostility to the United States.

Few high school students should be surprised to learn that each nation’s high school history and social studies textbooks tend to present a favorable view of that nation.  But for a rational person, simply knowing about this bias should eliminate its average persuasive effect. 

Of course high school students may not be rational, but this textbook bias seems a great point to explore in discussions with them.  Perhaps after letting students compare their texts to translations of foreign texts, I would repeatedly ask them:  why do you believe local texts more that foreign texts?

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