Biased Textbooks

By Sydney York

School textbooks pose a substantial influence among students within the American education system. For subjects like history, it is crucial to learn and educate ourselves with objective and unbiased information. Unfortunately, with many textbooks here in the United States, those standards are not completely implemented. 

Multiple aspects prove that American history textbooks are biased. One of which is the treatment of minorities. Most of what we read is seen through a specific lense- a white washed American. Ways in which major historical developments are described as having an impact on minorities may not be noticed through an equal perspective. The American Textbook Council and the American Association of Publishers, or two bestselling textbook publishers in the U.S. have repeatedly exploited the history of treatment towards minorities. For instance, “The communication of the idea that there was no “widespread” repression of minority groups in World War II allows the authors to present the impression that an improvement had taken place in American treatment of minorities. Yet the treatment of Japanese Americans-not to mention continuing discrimination against many minorities-was surely sufficiently dramatic in its violation of human rights that it would be more appropriate to present its historical context as one of continuing American failure to treat minorities justly rather than as one of improvement in the minority situation,” according to Michael H. Romanowski, or the Assistant Professor of Education at Ohio Northern University, Ada, Ohio. It is best to reconstruct the general idea of American treatment towards minorities. Sadly our textbooks intoxicate our percievences. 

Language within textbooks is also crucial. “Although textbooks claim rhetorically not to promote a particular understanding of history and to be objective, they advance a value-laden perspective of reality. Because the selection and structure of knowledge affect our perception of the world, the language and context used to articulate knowledge are significant,” as claimed by Romanowski. Specific or persuasive language also relates to items such as political propaganda. Textbooks authors will pick a certain language in order to create an impression on student’s minds. As we get older, our knowledge and perception of the world and society are sculpted by what we read- and how we understand it. 

In order to progress as a society and within our current school curriculums, we must encourage changes in assumptions about the content in our current textbooks. Our current textbooks underemphasize specific morals and progressive standards. This only stands as another issue within our education system that has yet to be fixed.