Reading the first 21 pages of Painter’s History of Education just blew my mind. And the fact that this textbook was used by Saskatchewan teachers in the early 1900’s is even crazier. Our teacher specified not to be scandalized in our lecture today, but I just could not help myself. Painter uses many racial terms in his work, “good” words about “his kind” and some other non-pretty words for anybody else that is underneath him in the racial hierarchy. Just so we are clear, I do not believe in racial hierarchy. He leaves us the impression that to him, being an anglo-saxon is just the best thing you can be. You are viewed as a noble man, you are the ideal of the human race, you are built to be the ideal of Christ. He then goes on comparing civilized people (like the anglo-saxon) to the barbarous people such as the Mongolians, the Chinese, giving us the impression that their ways are wrong compared to the western ways and that they cannot be smart/intelligent/knowledgable like the “child of the West”. The term “race” in the textbook highlights the negative differences between Westerners and Occidentals.
Why were teachers taught to think in racial terms? Mainly for assimilation. It was the government’s way of making sure that teachers would emphasize the importance of the Western ways in public schools and residential schools. Through “mandatory” texts about teaching/education that were written in racial ways, teachers believed it was “common sense” and “normal” to be teaching those views to the students in their classroom. I really hope that teachers nowadays do not unconsciously impose those biased values to the kids sitting in front of them in the class. What do you think? Are we still imposing white racialization unconsciously to our students in 2013? In what ways should we explore different cultures in class without it being seen as “racism” from the anglo-saxon?