You may or may not have heard the story about Google wanting to create an online library of famous / important books. Good for them, I say, but not everyone agrees.
Some people over in France, for example, are concerned that this new
universally accessible library may focus too much on the U.S. perspective
of world events. The example given was “I don’t want the French Revolution
retold just by books chosen by the United States. The picture presented
may not be less good or less bad, but it will not be ours.” When I first
read this article I was a bit indignant. After all, they more or less said
the U.S. way of looking at things is no good, right?
Wrong. What they’re asking is that the library show more than JUST the U.S. point of
view. David Warlick has some commentary in one of his podcasts (I forget which one) about how back in the day the internet was for the most part a U.S. phenomenon. Now of course, it’s international. That person you’re talking to in a chat room? They could be next door or on the other side of the world. The United States cannot claim ownership of the internet, and the world is better off because of it.
One of those buzz words that keeps popping up is “Global Community.” Ok, that’s two words, but you know what I mean. With the internet we’re able to share a lot of
things in common, but we have just as many differences as commonalities. Rather than ignore those differences I see them as things to explore. Doing so can help us learn about other cultures just as much as exploring our common traits.
So what does all this make any difference in the world of education? Believe it or not, it can and does. History books might be filled with facts, but they’re also filled with interpretations of those facts based on the culture of the organizations that published the book. (Today a coworker of mine told me about how one of her U.S. history
classes had used a textbook printed in the U.K. – I would have loved to see their view on the American Civil War.)