Customer Reviews


5 Reviews
5 star:
 (3)
4 star:
 (1)
3 star:
 (1)
2 star:    (0)
1 star:    (0)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favourable review
The most helpful critical review


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A rallying call for reason
This is a compelling read about the effect of lobby groups on US publishers of educational text books. The right wing (fundamentalist Christian) lobbies for change in content, while the politically correct left lobbies for change in language. The result is English test papers that are specially written to placate all parties and which do not - cannot - draw on the...
Published on 6 July 2003 by Linda Proud Smith

versus
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Sociology from an historian's perspective
Ultimately I enjoyed this book but for different reasons that I had perhaps anticipated.

Assuming that this would be a wide and far reaching exposition of censorship and its impact on society at large, I duly purchased this text, only to find it far from met those aims and objectives. Instead what I found was an articulate (if somewhat repetitive) diatribe...
Published on 26 May 2012 by ARWoollock


Most Helpful First | Newest First

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Sociology from an historian's perspective, 26 May 2012
Ultimately I enjoyed this book but for different reasons that I had perhaps anticipated.

Assuming that this would be a wide and far reaching exposition of censorship and its impact on society at large, I duly purchased this text, only to find it far from met those aims and objectives. Instead what I found was an articulate (if somewhat repetitive) diatribe pertaining solely to the very narrow concern of k-12 textbook procurement for the American school system, or rather that procurement system.

That textbooks are censored is not new, that content is reviewed and edited is not new, that pressure groups push to have their vested interests served (and those of other's excluded) is not revelationary, that language has (thankfully) been kicked into shape regarding overt racist and sexist language simply reflects the shift in what society has elected as being its current set of values. So what's new? Not much really, certainly not much that the average articulate citizen has not guessed at for themselves.

The major flaws in this text are as follows:
i) As the title alludes to, this is an historian's take on an issue which is really outside of her remit, and this quite often shines through,
ii) Dr. Ravitch seems to have forgotten she is seventy-three years old and that children and young adults don't learn like either she does or did, that their pedagogical narrative is a totally different educational paradigm to hers, so why isn't she aware of this elementary fact? She seems totally unaware that whilst she may hate textbooks full of graphics (she constantly harps on about this fact), that textbooks like that are NOT AIIMED AT SEVENTY-THREE YEAR OLD PEOPLE! They are squarely aimed at young people who are highly visually-literate and require very different kinds of stimuli than was the case when she attended school in the post-war world. Why she keeps revealing her acute ignorance of current pedagogical paradigms is anyone's guess.

Ultimately this book is a worthwhile read for it offers a cohesive voice in the wider censorship debate, a debate which should be engaged in at everyone's dinner-table, irrelevant of which side of the fence they sit on. That it was myopic in parts, repetitive in others, and that it could easily have been half as long is something her editors should have considered.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A rallying call for reason, 6 July 2003
By 
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Language Police: How Pressure Groups Restrict What Students Learn (Hardcover)
This is a compelling read about the effect of lobby groups on US publishers of educational text books. The right wing (fundamentalist Christian) lobbies for change in content, while the politically correct left lobbies for change in language. The result is English test papers that are specially written to placate all parties and which do not - cannot - draw on the classics of American literature. The dumbing down of language and falsification of history described here are hair-raising. Not all the changes are unreasonable, but enough are so absurd as to be dangerous. There should be a public debate on the issues raised, and an investigation into the 'guidelines' used by UK publishers.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Some Opinions are More Equal than Others, 5 Aug 2012
By 
John M. Ford "johnDC" (near DC, MD USA) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Language Police: How Pressure Groups Restrict What Students Learn (Hardcover)
Diane Ravitch is a historian who worked in the U.S. Department of Education during the George H. W. Bush administration and was appointed to the National Assessment Governing Board by Bill Clinton. In this book she expresses her concerns about censorship of materials used in public school instruction and educational testing. This censorship began with reasonable concerns that female and ethnic minority students not encounter offensive educational material. It "...has evolved into a surprisingly broad and increasingly bizarre policy of censorship that has gone far beyond its original scope and now excises from test and textbooks words, images, passages and ideas that no reasonable person would consider biased."

The book examines the original meaning of "bias" in educational materials and how that meaning has evolved in response to pressures from both ends of the political spectrum. The author's approach is noteworthy because of its even-handed treatment of conservatives and liberals. She shows how groups on the right and the left demand that test and textbook publishers to exclude controversial content from their products. Adoption procedures in the two largest textbook markets--California and Texas--constrain what is available in other states. Conducting "sensitivity reviews" and avoiding negative publicity, publishers produce materials that are simplistic, avoid controversy, and distort cultural and historical facts.

Ravitch warns that these boring textbooks in our schools are having serious effects beyond discouraged teachers and disinterested students. Learning becomes increasingly disconnected from the world students see online, in the media, and around them. Great literature disappears from reading lists because it contains blacklisted words, competing points of view, or an "unrepresentative" balance of ethnic and racial groups. Students' ability to study history with a critical eye, learning why some cultures thrive and others collapse, is diminished as they absorb text after text cleansed of any evaluative judgments. "Great history consists of great stories, surprising convergences, the conflict of powerful ideas, and the historian's insights into motivation and character that illuminate the life of a man or woman--but all of that has been sacrificed to the gods of coverage and cultural equivalence."

How do we fix these problems? There are three general strategies. First, we must take steps to restore competition to the textbook market. Individual schools need to have unconstrained access to a wider variety of textbooks from a larger number of publishers. Second, we need more "sunshine." The public needs to be made more aware of censorship by publishers, states, and the federal government. Third, we need better-educated public school teachers. They should have stronger credentials in the subjects they teach, preparing them to more effectively evaluate educational materials and supplement or replace them if needed.

I recommend reading this book and some of the sources it draws upon. It identifies an important problem in public education, describes it in useful detail, and recommends strategies to mitigate its effects.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An eye-opening study, 11 July 2008
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Language Police: How Pressure Groups Restrict What Students Learn (Hardcover)
This excellent (and depressing) study brings to light a serious problem in American education, some signs of which are becoming visible in the UK. All educators should be aware of Ravitch's findings, painstakingly assembled over several years. Of value too is her comprehensive list of literary texts that should be on the curriculum for each age group. It's also one of the best introductions to political correctness.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars EVERY EDUCATOR ,PARENT, AND STUDENT SHOULD READ THIS, 21 Feb 2006
By A Customer
This review is from: The Language Police: How Pressure Groups Restrict What Students Learn (Hardcover)
This is a stunning indictment of the textbook industry, not only in the United States, but worldwide. The author shows how a multi-million dollar industry stifles learning and renders teachers, students, and writers helpless in the face of the manic search for political correctness. To be fair to the industry, it is primarily an indictment of institutions that hire gatekeepers of knowledge with a myopic vision of lifelong learning.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


Most Helpful First | Newest First

This product

The Language Police: How Pressure Groups Restrict What Students Learn
Used & New from: 0.30
Add to wishlist See buying options
Only search this product's reviews