Monday, May 10, 2010

One Step Forward, Eighteen Thousand Steps Backwards

It was wonderful and somewhat surprising to see so many examples of girls and boys doing science together in this book. There are an equal amount of pictures and examples for both genders. I would have expected more genderized photographs and projects. I'm glad to have been wrong on that!

Right off the bat, we have this lovely picture of a Grade 9 class and their science projects, built from the instructions contained in the book. This includes a lens camera, an electric motor, a barometer, a sonometer, a convection current somethingorother, home-lighting, circuits, and an optical disk. How nice that (presumably) all of the students in that class got to learn from building something.

See? Everyone will go blind as they get older!

The progressive and inclusive attitude towards women that I found in this book made it all the more shocking when I found this doozy of a problem. It was stunning and horrifying to see this in a textbook, and a science textbook at that, of all things.

The caption reads, "A Fijian mother with her two children in front of their thatched cottage. What evidence can you find in this picture to suggest that life in a hot climate is very simple and that the people are unprogressive?"


The supporting block of text in the book that students can use to "help" solve this example is:

"In regions lying near the equator, the life of the native is equally simple. There, clothing is scanty and of light material; homes are simple and poorly constructed. Natives in these regions incline to be indolent and unprogressive. Why? In the very cold regions, the conditions are too hard and the resources too meagre to permit of progress, while in the tropics, living is too easy to stimulate activity."

Way to miss the real problem completely, authors. I hope that we've come a long, long way since then.

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