Scott Thornbury offered up a stimulating blog post this week titled “R is for Representation“. About how textbooks don’t represent the world of the student, the spaces they live and walk among, the people they know nor the dreams they have for themselves. I won’t relate anymore, read the post and the fine comments, my own included. I’ve also written on this subject numerous times on this blog – here is one such post- Textbook Talk: Using SCC.
I will write about what I was reminded of when enjoying the post over Sunday coffee – a lesson on stereotyping I created years ago. It has some very vivid examples of 1980s textbook material that includes incredibly insensitive images of ethnic stereotypes. You might also think to yourself, “this could never be the case today!” and you’d be dead wrong. You see, the thing is we don’t see the images of our textbooks and materials as “offensive”. Why? Because by their nature, stereotypes are ingrained, not something we can see except from afar – be that in time or through a great break with our own culture.
It is a cool presentation that you can quickly use with a computer and screen (or IWB or class tablets/devices). It will challenge your student’s existing prejudices, no matter what part of the world they are in. I’ve used this in my curriculum development classes to get teachers seeing how materials can be unintentionally very offensive. I’ll also note my opinion that we should also try to use “local” content/images – what is relevant and closer to the student’s world. This presentation outlines this for where I was teaching at the time, Korea.