Why Teaching Racial Thinking is Problematic

As you read, make note of the various ways that the idea of race is used in the text (for example, the human race, or specific races). What does race mean in this textbook? What does it mean that teachers are being taught to think in racial terms? What are the effects of teaching teachers to think in this way?

In reading the first 21 pages of F. V. N. Painter’s History of Education (1886) there are many statements that I found alarming but also surprising.  For example:

  • The division of people into the terms “barbarous as well as civilized, each generation has received a special training for its subsequent career.

  • Going into the reading I pictured a extremely racist, biased, sexist, and stereotypical article.  I was surprised to read “Intelligence, freedom, morality, and religion, though far from being universal, prevail to a degree unprecedented in the past.  Human progress is an evident fact”.  This I found as an interesting fact because of the fact that we today in recent textbooks, see “gender discrimination or gay and lesbian rights has had improvement over the recent years, but is far from universal”.

  • “Asia is the birthplace of the human race”

  • “The aim of education is to prepare its subjects for their place in the established order of things.” Although I agree with this statement I believe that education has came a lot further than just preparing “subjects” for their place in the established order of things, such as teaching students social skills and showing compassion as a couple examples.

  • The fact that the article states, “[Chinese] are hypocritical and dishonest; and once in authority, they are apt to become tyrannical, and even cruel.” I found this as a very racist and stereotypical view of the Chinese people.

    The term race according to this “dated, 128 year-old book”, views race in two different terms.  One being the overall view of humans as a species. As well as separate human races, such as the Mongolian race.  The division of humans into races is still a common thing today, but as future educators we must come to realize that there is no such thing as race.

    As a fellow collegue KKFlearningtoteach.wordpress.com states, “It is great that teachers are able to teach what they believe in”.  Although it is frightening to think of all the teachers and all the different views that are being taught to the next generation.  As I am very interested in social justice issues, I think it is important to teach the importance of equality to all students, as the issue of equality is in the forefront of many issues in today’s society.

Comments (0)

  1. Reply

    I also found it interesting that when Painter was discussing Chinese people and culture, he described them as thinking of themselves as superior people. He also mentioned that Chinese culture separates all other foreign countries as barbarous in comparison to themselves. This is exactly what Painter is doing throughout the 21 pages, describing American culture and education as superior and describing other cultures as barbarous. I found this very hypocritical.

  2. Christine


    Your blog raises some very good points and I really liked how you put some of the shocking statements from the reading at the beginning. It sets a very good idea for the reader about the reading. When the question is raised how is race mentioned in the text, I think you need to look more deeply within the text and see beyond how the one context of how they view it and see that race is important to realize and that as teachers we need embrace students differences. I also really agree that as a teacher it is important to teach our students equality.

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