spin cycle: textbooks

Welcome back to Spin Cycle, where we watch/read/listen to the news and then spend at least three hours reading all the source material for the Wikipedia page on lobotomies.

Sometimes people in the news use words we wouldn’t use: vague or purposely misleading words. Other times, they don’t say enough words — they make something sound very simple when it isn’t or leave out important pieces of information that might change the way you feel about the words they did use.

Did you see this story? The headline is, “To Shape Young Palestinians, Hamas Creates Its Own Textbooks.”

Even before you read the story, you can probably guess what it says. A group of people that is best known in most of the world for being the violent, scary kind of religious is writing its own versions of history and politics and teaching that stuff to children.

Some words you won’t find in that story are: Every country does this. Every version of the past and present is rife with biases. There are varying degrees of accuracy, of course. And some authors try very hard to see things from more than one point of view. But a lot of them don’t.

Here is how textbooks work: We tell children to read the chapters, then answer the questions at the end. A better assignment would be: Fact-check the chapters, then come up with some questions of your own.