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The British Attacks on Lexington and Concord

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Several important historical events are simply left out of textbooks. Everyone in America has heard of Paul Revere, and his famous midnight ride, but most people have not heard of men such as William Dawes and Samuel Prescott. These men, and countless others, also delivered news of the British attacks on Lexington and Concord. The events surrounding Lexington and Concord themselves are also inaccurately taught. Students are told that these events mark the beginning of the American Revolution, and while this may not be inherently false, there were rebellions before the events at Lexington and Concord that are not even mentioned in most textbooks. 

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Throughout Massachusetts, farmers and artisans overthrew British authority in 1774, and around 95% of Massachusetts was free from British rule over half a year before the events at Lexington and Concord. It is completely unacceptable that some vital events in American history are disregarded as unimportant for various reasons. These facts are not being taught in most schools, and therefore they will eventually be forgotten. We cannot rely on these flawed, bias textbooks to be the basis of the history curriculums taught in American schools. (Raphael)

Another staple in American schools is classics which, like history textbooks, are outdated and stereotypical. Students have been reading the same classics for years. While these books may have been progressive when published, they now teach lessons that are no longer applicable in the modern society. The culture has evolved past what was acceptable in the time of traditionally great authors such as William Shakespeare and Homer. Shakespeare’s play Romeo and Juliet is a perfect example of this. Juliet is 14 years old in the play, and she is expected to be married soon. Paris wishes to marry her and comments, “Younger than she are happy mothers made” when Capulet says she is too young (Shakespeare 2012, 32). 

This implies that girls younger than Juliet’s 14 years are already married with children. Today, marriage involving anyone under 18 is looked down upon, and, usually, most girls do not want to have children in their teenage years. Society tries to justify the teachings in classics by claiming that we cannot judge old books by current standards, because the culture was different back then, but this is exactly why these books are outdated. It would be completely unacceptable to have people today model their behavior on characters in these books, but it is still widely believed that these books are examples that future generations should look to for guidance.

Classic novels are teaching students incorrect, outdated stereotypes during some of the most formative years of their lives. We are not reading classics because we will need to know the plot of books such as Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck and Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton in adult life. We are supposed to learn from the themes of these novels, and apply these lessons to our lives in the future, but we shouldn’t continue to foster the stereotypical views portrayed in these novels. In his novel Of Mice and Men, John Steinbeck describes Lennie as “dumb as hell,” but no further description is given about his implied mental illness (Steinbeck 1993, 39). 

As a person with a mental illness, Lennie is depicted to be an incompetent, dangerous fool. This representation only reinforces the idea that every person with a mental disorder is dangerous, simple-minded, and unable to make rational decisions. The supposed perfection of novels like these mean that the students reading them are not recognizing the flawed beliefs and incorrect characterization throughout the stories, and carrying these inaccurate stereotypes and inaccurate beliefs throughout their lives and passing them on to future generations.

American schools have been using the same curriculums for years. The culture has changed, and schools need to reflect that. Using outdated classic novels in English classes only reinforces inaccurate beliefs and hurtful stereotypes. These novels have been taught in the same way for years, and are viewed as perfect. The many flaws within them are ignored simply because they were written in a different time period when many incorrect beliefs and stereotypes were accepted. Many beliefs and stereotypes are also depicted in supposedly objective history textbooks. 

The authors of these textbooks are impressing their beliefs onto students, even when these beliefs are not directly stated. Textbooks are teaching students what the important parts of history are by the tone with which they are written, or even by events that simply are not mentioned. For better or for worse, we are learning some of the most important lessons of our lives from these bias textbooks and outdated classics that cannot properly address them. We have been taught from old sources and we will go on to teach future generations these same outdated lessons, regardless of any cultural changes that may have occurred, because curriculums are not being changed as well.  

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