American intention to split Brazil? (Fwd) [listageografia] >>

Juan R. Fajardo fajardos at SPAMix.netcom.com
Sun May 14 11:58:04 MDT 2000


In my role as a social studies teacher I have not come across anything
like what Nestor describes.

I suspect however that what caught the attention of Renata
Panosso, the person who originally broght the issue to light on the SBPC
Jornal da Ciência (JC E-Mail), had to do with schoolbook publishers'
attempt to show Amazonia's location and extent.  In the US it is common
to refer to the "rain forest" as if it were a single entity, indistinct
world-wide, instead of being divided into numerous forests on all
continents save Europe and Antarctica.  And, within that fallacy, the
"rain forest" is further reduced to being sinonymous with Amazonia.
And, Amazonia is thought of as a museum piece, a land outside of time,
holding myriad secrets that can be found only by those with empathy,
patience, and enlightened attitudes, but one that is imperiled by a
practically faceless "outside world", the "modern world", much in the
same way that Tibet is viewed in the West.

Of course,  such a place outside of time, cannot be conceived of as
being the province of several nation states with legitimate claims and
needs that can be solved by making use of that land, that water, that
timber, that space.

In any case, back to the original point:  ecological consciousness is in
vogue in US schools, particularly in the lower grades, and that is
good.  It is very good.  What is not so good about it, is that, like
with so much else, it is externalized as an issue, so that environmental
consciousness is not focused on "home-grown" prolems but is focused on
"big" issues like the ozone layer, global warming, and the loss of
biodiversity.  At the heart of each of those issues lies rain-forest
loss.  So, Amazonia plays a key role in a big part of the curricula of
US schools* and texbook companies of course would try to pander to that
by giving it prominence in texts, images, and maps.  I suspect that Ms.
Panosso mis-interpreted one or more such maps.


- Juan


------
* Unlike other countries, in the US there is no "national curriculum" or
"national text" for use in state-run schools, because there are no
schools run by the national state, instead each community devises its
own curriculum and selects its own textbooks and materials; and multiple
commercial companies try to make a buck filling that demand by
publishing textbooks that will sell across the spectrum of the nation's
school districts by shying away from controversial subjects, "political"
issues and language, etc.  It leads to schematic and fallacious writing
in some instances, particularly, but not limited to, Cuba, China, the
USSR, Korea, Vietnam, Central America, and Israel.  I often find myself
filling in gaps for my students, correcting misconceptions fostered by
the language chosen for the texts, pointing out examples of bias by the
authors and publishers, or flat out saying that the book is wrong in
some instances.  But, that's a whole separate story... In any case, for
the reasons noted above, Panosso's suggestion that Bill Clinton's
administration offer a formal explanation of the maps in question --even
if the superpower could be pushed into the position of trying to give an
explanation-- would get nowhere because no single entity controls what
goes into textbooks.





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