The topic of early world explorers as it is taught in a 5th grade class at Whittier School is likely to fall along generational lines as distinct as Republican and Democratic politicos.
GUARDIAN reader Nate Murphy sent us a set of “wanted posters” from a 5th grade class at Whittier school which pretty much listed a one-sided view of early explorers from Christopher Columbus to Sir Francis Drake. The student-produced posters pretty much made conclusions that fly in the face off what older generations were taught in school.
Murphy was concerned enough about what he saw to share his views with the governor, Lt. gov., legislative leadership, and the state department of education. He didn’t get a single response.
We share his letter, the images which upset him, and the official response from the Boise School District’s spokesman, Dan Hollar.
As a father of a 1st grader, home owner, and citizen of the Great State of Idaho, it brings me great displeasure to bring this to your attention. I received the pictures below from a 5th grade class in the Boise School District a few weeks ago. If you would be so kind as to review the pictures first, then come back to the body of the email, I think it would help put the following in context.
Is this lopsided interpretation of the new world explorers sanctioned by the Idaho State Department of Education? Or are individual teachers allowed to frame history as they see fit? Or, is this a common core standard that we are force fed in order to receive federal education dollars? If the answer to any of the aforementioned is yes, then this concerns me deeply.
Why are we teaching our children that wanting these explorers dead is okay? Are those the values we expect from our future generation? Especially when, it would seem, the narrative has been skewed? A good percentage of these children, especially those who don’t have parents that prepare their kids with critical thinking skills, are going to believe what their teacher says and will go on with life with an indoctrinated, depressed, view of our history and origins. Or, is that the intention?
If my daughter were attending this school, I’d ask her to provide evidence to warrant the charges depicted on these wanted posters. The charge that Sir Francis Drake is “Dumb” for instance, might not hold water. Or the charge that he was last seen “murdering someone” seems to lack specific evidence/context. Also, did the explorers do nothing good, or were they all evil all the time?
What about including positive info on the courage it took to blindly set sail into the ether, not knowing what might come of you? Or, maybe use this as an oppurtunity to remind the kids that taking risks can be a good thing. Or how about the valuable lesson of self reliance and working as a team, with regards to the crew in the middle of nowhere, themselves trying to survive.
And if it weren’t for explorers coming here centuries ago we’d never have such luxuries as trying to blame those past explorers, while viewing their actions in the past, through the eyepiece of the telescope of the present, for deeds, though some unfortunate, gave us this very land to comfortably complain within.
I look forward to hearing all of your thoughts.
BOISE SCHOOLS STATEMENT:
Given the abundant amount of information available today, we believe it is important that our students have the skills needed to accurately weigh all the facts and information before coming to a conclusion. To build these critical thinking skills, our teachers ask our students to seek knowledge and ask questions. Students are also expected to be able to discuss topics from many points of view and present a well-rounded and thorough examination of the topic.
Studying historic explorers is part of our social studies curriculum. A key component of our curriculum is to encourage students to look at history from multiple perspectives. The objective of the assignment was to study explorers and to look at this time frame through the lens of the relationship between the indigenous tribes and the explorers. Unfortunately, a small and selective portion of the assignment is being used to make a political point and is therefore misrepresenting the overall intent of the assignment. When the complete assignment was presented during parent teacher conferences, parents were supportive of the lesson.
We invite any parent or patron of the Boise School District who would like to learn more about how our students are being prepared to think critically to contact us at anytime.
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Jan 20, 2020, 4:19 pm
Thus the functions of a handsomely paid spokesperson dutifully performed which is to spin the facts and defend their employer at all costs. The public school system is an indoctrination chamber for future liberals by current liberals.
Jan 20, 2020, 5:05 pm
Well, at least they didn’t discuss the explorer’s gender identities through the lens of the the millennial teachers.
Jan 20, 2020, 5:15 pm
Not knowing the reason the students were given the assignment I would withhold judgement and give the teacher and school the benefit of a doubt of why they made the posters. I didn’t find the posters offensive at all. I would rather see our students learn that many of these early explorers were not perfect in terms of our morality and values today but was acceptable at the time they lived. When I attended school many years ago I find that much of what we were taught about history was skewed toward they were all heroes. This is certainly not the truth. I like educated students who are taught both sides of history and teachers who are willing to point out the good and the bad. Does teaching the truth make you a liberal or a conservative? No. It makes you an educated and informed citizen.
Jan 20, 2020, 6:28 pm
Dear Governor, “Why are we teaching our children that wanting these [dead] explorers dead is okay?”
Teachers have a really tough job, not because of the kids- it’s because of the parents.
I for one, am mostly interested in the ‘Life time supply of Food! And 1,000 in gold,’ and better spelling.
But at last, a good story for today being Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, Day. A day of recognition initiated by President Reagan in 1983.
It is a good example for all to consider our times and such thoughts, with peaceful words of wisdom:
“Intelligence plus character — that is the goal of true education.”
“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”
“Science investigates; religion interprets. Science gives man knowledge, which is power; religion gives man wisdom, which is control. Science deals mainly with facts; religion deals mainly with values. The two are not rivals.” ~ MLKjr
Jan 20, 2020, 11:15 pm
Let’s be honest here and acknowledge that attending a school of education is the easiest way to graduate with a Bachelor’s degree. The best and brightest are not teaching in public schools, by and large. Kids today are assaulted with feminism and anti-white indoctrination in school from age 5-18.
Jan 20, 2020, 11:28 pm
So the teachers and school administrators wonder why they are widely disrespected? This is liberal agenda indoctrination. Trusted adults who hate America teaching kids to hate America. They are succeeding even in Idaho. Right under your noses republicans! I hope Idaho’s elected leaders will have the nads to put a stop to this. A democrat of 30 years ago would have a problem with this too, but they are America hating nuts today.
Jan 21, 2020, 10:30 am
That students would be “taught” to produce this poster is a bold statement of sad state of education in this country. The liberal agenda is offensive. The typical school (paid) employee spouting total bs response is total double speak. Then school “educators” wonder why the push for school vouchers (also know as “free choice”). Even 20 years ago this was evident as we decided to remove our 2 younger children from this atmosphere. We chose to pay twice for their education – once by taxes to state, then to private school. Not everyone who disagrees with the current school situation can do this. Our kids were lucky and have benifited it. Bring common sense back.
Jan 21, 2020, 10:36 am
It appears that some Guardian subscribers could use a brush-up on their understanding of the conquest of the New World, where about 90 percent of the indigenous populations were wiped out by the conquerors, some intentionally, some unintentionally.
“1491: New Revelations of the Americas
Before Columbus” by Charles Mann would be a good place to start.
They could also benefit from a few hours volunteering in their local schools to learn what actually goes on in the classrooms.
Jan 21, 2020, 3:18 pm
The District explanation seems valid to me. We do need to look at things from other perspectives. If part of a larger unit, I think it’s fine.
Jan 21, 2020, 8:03 pm
Rab, you ignorantly presume we have not. Had a front row seat to the commie liberal agenda being forced into the minds of children. It’s America hating insanity with the goal of damaging western civilization.
Jan 21, 2020, 8:12 pm
What was the actual assignment?
Was it to make a wanted dead or alive poster? Was this just how a few students chose to complete the project? If the actual assignment was to make a wanted dead or alive poster it was negative from the start.
There was no choice for the student to develop their own thoughts as the district response alludes too.
Jan 21, 2020, 8:13 pm
Mr. Guardian, This posting is bit off the topic of unbridled growth. Did you sell this site to Fox News? Conspiracy theories aside, “Hey Readers, leave those kids alone.”
Jan 22, 2020, 12:25 am
The posts here don’t seem to be coming in with much more accuracy than the posters.
Sounds like a boring assignment.
Jan 22, 2020, 7:59 am
This is no different than the teachers that dressed up as latinos crossing the border. Their assignment was to show stereotypes. The difference here is the school’s opposite reaction. This teacher and administration should be held to the same punishment.
Jan 22, 2020, 8:07 am
Boise, this is not new. They steal your children while you look at your phones. They steal your children while you can’t be bothered. You that leave your children in these schools to be indoctrinated can’t complain. God haters got them, they are going to do as Hitler “Those that have the minds of the children, control the future” There you go…..
Jan 22, 2020, 3:25 pm
Simply disgusting. Shame on you parents that don’t put a stop to this before you lose your childrens’ minds.
Jan 22, 2020, 4:09 pm
Read the Boise Schools’ Flak Man’s response: what a swimming pool of muck.
Ask this: why was the ‘Dead or Alive’ theme used in the first place? What does it mean?
Jan 22, 2020, 6:20 pm
While I agree that the way world history was taught when I was in school was far off the mark and am all for the truth being taught the wanted dead or alive is just not appropriate in any context.
U dont make amends for past transgressions by committing more in the present.
Jan 23, 2020, 8:23 am
Oh, the tangled webs!
Interesting and enlightening information. Thanks for sharing this, Nate Murphy (who obviously wants to know what’s going on in his kids’ classrooms).
I s’pose I’m most disappointeded that his inquiry to the state honchos got no response.
Dan Hollar’s job is to defend the school district against criticism, so his response is about what you’d expect.
My take: Historical figures are historical because of either their good deeds or their infamous deeds. The good people surely had flaws… the bad guys maybe had some good in ’em that we don’t focus on. F’r instance… Jefferson owned slaves. Ulysses Grant was an alcoholic. More recently, John F. Kennedy and the gentleman whose legacy we just celebrated, “Reverend” Martin Luther King, Jr., both were a little weak in the “thou shalt not commit adultery” thing. Do we want our kids to dissect their weaknesses, rather than learn how they shaped history?
Maybe next week the kids will be learning:
Hitler – he was a great orator!
Lenin – sure, he killed millions… but he made a wicked stroganoff!
Jan 24, 2020, 1:23 am
This is yet another example of “presentism”: the belief that it makes good history to judge people of the past by current moral norms. This implies that the norms of today are absolutes and persons of the 16th century should have known and followed our standards. This implies an absolute standard of morality that no leftist would otherwise consider acceptable. By the standards of 1950, we live in a depraved society.
The death count of Native Americans was huge, but largely the result of diseases brought inadvertantly and unknowingly by the Europeans. Deaths in war and slavery were a tiny fraction. While tragic, these were not a moral failing, but ignorance of microbiology.
What is often forgotten is that European conquest of the Americas and Africa was often aided and abetted by native populations. Cortez succeeded because Aztec human sacrifice of prisoners of war gave victim tribes a reason to help Cortez. Pizzaro arrived in the middle of an Incan civil war. The Narragansett tribe manipulated the Europeans into largely wiping out the Pequots to obtain the Pequot lands. Europeans arrived at Easter Island at the end of a cannibalistic civil war.
This is bad history and reminds me of the National Socialist dehumanization of the Jews as vermin. Good for present politics but fiercely hate-filled and deceptive. The same approach could be used to condemn African sale of slaves to Europeans for the trans-Atlantic slave trade, or LGBTs for the spread of AIDS in North America. If you want to know hy the Supreme Court is hearing a case concerning Montana’s private school tuition, look no further.
Jan 24, 2020, 10:45 am
I am sure everyone, including Nate, is okay with this historical ‘Wanted Dead or Alive’ poster, right?
It just depends on one’s perspective.
Oddly enough, the reward for one of our current Top Ten Most Wanted is NOT a “billion dollers”- (clearly these fifth graders are learning false information. HC! I must write another ltr to the Governor!).
The truth is, a normal reward is more like $100,000 -$200,000 for a murderer:
And it goes to $5Million for a US citizen ‘allegedly’ operating in a foreign terrorist organization.
But, kill a DEA agent ‘exploring things’ in a different country though, and the reward jumps to 20 million. https://www.fbi.gov/wanted/topten/rafael-caro-quintero
So “DEA Lives Matter [more]?”
Kids, the real lesson is some criminals ARE worth more than others- like “a Life time supply of Food!”
Jan 24, 2020, 11:00 am
History books are fiction, written by the winners of wars or invasions.
The “Great Explorers” were scouts for invading Empires; looking to steal gold, silver and other booty.
Jan 24, 2020, 3:20 pm
As one who read many a revisionist article in Left publications, this is standard fare. Yes, the past is riddled with imperialist traditions. That is why OUR nation was born. Why is it that EVERYONE still wants to enter the USA, Freedom….plain and simple.
But the Left conveniently ignores and/or excuses the very same horrifying behavior of their own heroes…Lenin, Stalin, Trotsky, the Che, Castro, Mao, Muslim terrorists and of course, Bill Ayers.
The Neo-Weathermen…strike that…Neo-WeatherPERSONS, are being created right in our midst. Wokeness is the new religion. The silence from State GOP leaders is deafening. They are too busy triangulating their political calculations. Governor Little is a liberal, not a conservative. Should we ask….Control File here?
I’ve read Leftist Howard Zinn’s “Peoples History of the United States.” It is replete with his damning perspective of our history and paints our nation as a terrorist haven of white supremacy.
I just received a new book….”Debunking Howard Zinn-Exposing the Fake History That Turned a Generation against America.” This fact alone would trigger millions of snowflakes.
It is so easy to see how there has been a prolonged effort to destroy this nation from inside. Enemy Number One is the Legacy Media and the Indoctrination system that has slowly pressured the narrative to the Collectivist Authoritarian end of the spectrum. The Overton Window now shows how close we are to a Soviet style takeover.
Many thanks to the citizen who shared this travesty with David.
Jan 28, 2020, 10:15 am
This is classic cultural Marxism: Change history either by flashback, projection, or just erasing. However it’s done, it is not history.
Jan 28, 2020, 6:04 pm
^^ That is ugly CK!
And for a newcomer to post such stuff. Wow!
So you believe to “change history”, to update it by reflecting additional TRUE information, is somehow related to Marxism? Sad to read.
The idea of “cultural Marxism” is now HIGHLY associated with antisemitism comments and antisemitic people and the obvious xenophobia.
It has been for quite a while by the SPLC (from 2003):
Even MORE SO NOW due to the surge of the alt-right idiots:
Maybe you are just confused CK;
unless of course that does fit your mentality and beliefs. Or do you just like slinging nutty theories into blogs?
What is NOT accurate is some of the garbage coming from our current politicos and citizenry – showing a lack of memory and total ignorance of US History and democratic principles. Sad and ugly.
Ironic this topic made it to our Statehouse recently in a hearing about science standards. Some opposed to the above project, such as Nate, actually showed up in a hearing about “science” standards expressing their opinions about history. Maybe the hearing on history standards was full? SMH.
Jan 30, 2020, 5:47 pm
Would they allow Martin Luther King Jr. to be shown from a “different perspective?” Aren’t his fbi files still sealed?
Feb 10, 2020, 4:14 pm
If the assignment was meant to show both sides where is the other side, the side that applauds the courage, recognizes the tremendous character traits that the explorers portrayed? The side that examines the conditions and circumstances the explorers lived in and considered the explores actions and decisions in light of those facts. These posters don’t seem to represent fact, which leads a person to suspect few facts are being taught. I suspect those aspects were not taught to the children and asking children to think critically in an environment where biased opinion, is treated as fact, does not teach children to think critically. The comment about showing Martin Luther King Jr. in a true light would mean that his orgies and infidelity would have to be considered and that alone proves the tremendous bias apparent from the results of this assignment. We don’t need schools teaching a social justice perspective on history just teach the history!!!