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ERIC Number: EJ1001878
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2013
Pages: 4
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: N/A
ISSN: ISSN-0895-6855
The Character of Our Content: A Parent Confronts Bias in Early Elementary Literature
Holladay, Jennifer
Rethinking Schools, v27 n2 p42-45 Win 2012-2013
Last spring, the author's 2nd-grade daughter came home with an extra assignment--a worksheet she had not completed in class for a story called "The Selkie Girl." She brought the book home, too, and it was one the author had never seen before, a Junior Great Books anthology (Series 3, Book 1), published by the nonprofit Great Books Foundation. Not all of the book's stories are horrible in an anti-bias sense, but the social norms conveyed by the text as a whole are. How could this book make its way into an early elementary classroom? Unfortunately, the adoption of these materials reflects a trend that extends well beyond Junior Great Books themselves. Concerns about the "narrowing of the curriculum" under No Child Left Behind (NCLB) often focus on the short shrift given to subjects like social studies, music, and art. The truth is that curriculum is also narrowing in language arts and math classrooms, where content increasingly is restricted to materials, like Junior Great Books, that are "proven" to boost test scores. Holladay states that parents, educators, school leaders, and educational publishers possess a collective responsibility to evaluate the character of the content as rigorously as they evaluate children's "learning outcomes." A "space to reflect" should be deliberately created, because the material placed before children (and thus endorsed in the classrooms) teaches much more than comprehension skills. The social messages and values children take away from the content--the "what" of their comprehension--matters. (Contains 4 endnotes.)
Rethinking Schools, Ltd. 1001 East Keefe Avenue, Milwaukee, WI 53212. Tel: 414-964-9646; Fax: 414-964-7220; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Elementary Education; Grade 2
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Laws, Policies, & Programs: No Child Left Behind Act 2001