It was a simple enough question in an A-level textbook; ‘’To what extent do you believe the treatment of Native Americans has been exaggerated?’’
Any knowledge of US history would tell you the tribesmen of the Comanches, the Sioux and the Apaches were more than capable of holding their own against either settlers who were trying to drive them from their land or the US Army who wanted to contain or destroy them.
Native Americans massacred colonists and were massacred themselves. It was a bloody period. Most died not because of the white man’s bullets but because what they brought bought with them; smallpox, flu etc. That killed 90% of them.
So that’s the background. Anyway a lady called Hannah Wilkinson, who teaches history to students who require extra support at Durham Sixth Form Centre, happened across the A-level textbook containing the question and fired off a tweet to the exams body AQA and the publishers Hodder Education.
In her tweet she said; ‘’In what world is this an acceptable question/exercise to ask students to complete on the history of Native Americans in late 1800s US? Horrified.’’
Unbelievably Hodder immediately removed the book from sale.
Why? It’s a good question. If you don’t believe the treatment has been exaggerated why not say No and then explain why. If the answer is yes ditto. That is surely the point of questions.
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But the idea that that the wokes of Hodder immediately fold their tent in the face of a teacher from Durham shows what is wrong with the book publishing business and teaching.
They might be well advised to read new guidelines written by the broadcaster Trevor Phillips - backed by the V&A, the Science Museum and the Museum of Home - saying public institutions should resist ‘’anxious and panicked’’ decisions to remove statues and erase their history.
The paper from the Policy Exchange is to help schools, universities and other public bodies find their way in the age of movements like Black Lives Matter and Rhodes Must Fall.
In the case of calls to rename a street the paper recommends that all ‘’ratepaying residents and businesses, and all those who own properties on the street should be given a role.’’
I agree with that.
On that basis other teachers with different views of US history to Ms Wilkinson should be allowed to chip in their views before Hodder throw in the towel.
The idea that one teacher, with one narrow view, can change an important question with one tweet is ridiculous. That question should stand. It’s a very good debating point.
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