Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Social Studies Education, Please

The current trend in education is an obsession with math and science. I call it an obsession rather than a focus because that is all teachers hear about. We have to raise achievement in those areas so that our students can compete with those from China and Japan. (I AM not going to let myself get started on that.)

I am well aware of the fact that most people consider all Latinos to be "illegal Mexicans from Guatemala and Honduras" as repeated in one of my favorite movies, A Day Without a Mexican.
I guess I really hadn't thought about it, but I learned a new stereotype tonight.

I was in line at a local gas station where I witnessed the following scene:
Clerk: Lays cigarettes down on counter and tells Bubba the total.
Bubba: Wow, 'at's a lot cheaper than them A-rabs.
Clerk: Which A-rabs?
Bubba: Those down the road there.
Clerk: Rolls his eyes and shakes his head. They gotta charge that so they can make money to send home.

Sometimes I just have to keep my mouth shut because a fight, verbal or otherwise, in a gas station is a no-win situation, no matter how correct I am. It wasn't the totally ignorant reference to A-rabs that bothered me so much, or the way that so many people think "furners" come here just to send money home.

Those "A-rabs" aren't really Arabs at all. The owners of the gas station down the road are Indian. I didn't want to explain the difference in Native American Indians and Indians from India, the country. Next time, I'll drive on down the road to them when I need gas.

This is why politicians like Dick Cheney make stupid remarks about Appalachia and big, fancy city folk make tv shows like Outsider's Inn. I live in Sevier County, Tennessee, which prides itself on being a prime tourist destination. If a tourist had been standing in line behind me today, I do not think they would have left with a very positive opinion of Dolly Parton's hometown.

I was in a local bookstore over the weekend and I looked at Ann Coulter's Guilty: Liberal . I don't agree with Ann on much, but I think she hit the nail on the head on one topic. On the book jacket, there is an excerpt in which she states that 7th graders know more about putting a condom on a banana than they do geography. I totally agree.

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