As you know if you are a regular reader, I am a mom by day and a tutor by night. The majority of my students attend various private schools around the county, and it has been interesting to compare the curriculum that they study versus the curriculum used at the school where I taught in my pre-motherhood days.
I taught American and British Literature while at Pebblebrook, and the American Literature semester always started with the Puritans. Well, more specifically, we started with Native Americans, but we flew through that in about two days because the students hated it. For the Puritan unit, however, we read The Crucible, though it was actually written decades later. The students loved reading the Crucible for obvious reasons--scandal, witchcraft--I don't know, maybe they could relate. (Totally kidding. Sort of.) Anyway...being a first year teacher, I received a lot of advice from the other American Lit. teachers, and for the most part I did what they had always done, and they had always read the Crucible because to them it was a great representation of the Puritans. Hmmmm...here is where I differ in belief. Again, being a first year teacher, I was grateful for any notes, tests, projects ideas, etc. that might be passed to me, and I was given a power point presentation to use at the beginning of the Puritan Unit. One of the vocabulary words included in that power point presentation was fanatic. As in, religious fanatic. As in, the Puritans were nothing but religious fanatics, and there is not much good we can say about them. And Jonathan Edwards. Oh dear, the things I was supposed to teach about Jonathan Edwards. Did you hear? He was nothing but fire and brimstone that only served to increase that fanaticism among the Puritans. Crazy man. Interesting, I thought, since I had always heard that he was a great theologian of the Great Awakening. Hmmmm...
So, fast forward to tonight, and I am helping my history student prepare for finals. It's one of those impossible situations where she has to study 13 chapters worth of information by Thursday of next week, so we were scrambling to make note cards out of old tests borrowed from a student who actually thought to save her tests. (The girl I tutor, her mom thinks she probably threw them away. I have to agree with her mom. She always tells us that the teacher never gave it back. Funny, since the teacher says he does give them back. You be the judge--who's telling the truth?) Anyway, I digress. So there we sat, quickly making note cards, and I was making a note card about Jonathan Edwards, and sure enough, this test for this history class at a Private Christian School defined Jonathan Edwards as a well known theologian from the Great Awakening. Nothing about fanaticism. Nothing about crazy.
You tell me if certain world views don't creep into the curriculum. One curriculum accepts as fact that Jonathan Edwards and the puritans were crazy fanatics, and another claims he was a great theologian. It gives this mom a lot to consider when it comes to the education of her children.