Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Question To Ask About Art Robinson's Love of Racist Novels

Read the article in the Huffington Post.

In short the piece is about novels Art Robinson used in his homeschool curriculum, a curriculum he made available to the public, for a price.

Now I was expecting a classic such as Tom Sawyer or Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain. But discovered it was a book and author I had never heard of.

A PBS bio of G. A. Henty states that his books "are notable for their hearty imperialism, undisguised racism, and jingoistic patriotism," indicating that they they went out of print for a reason: such attitudes fell out of fashion decades ago.

I certainly wouldn't have chosen to use Henty's work, certainly not all 99 of them. But that is the beauty of homeschooling one doesn't have to use books one finds distasteful or poorly written. If we had read one of his works, it would have been used as an example of the popular assumptions held by the majority of the British people in Henty's own time. And that the British used these views to justify colonizing what they considered to be inferior races.


  1. This is what's typical of the Huffington Post - they are idiots! Have you seen the trash they have in the ps libraries these days? Or have you browsed the Barnes and Nobles table with the title "Required readers for public school"? Pure garbage! Some of the same trashy novels I was forced to read 27 years ago in highschool.

    I, personally haven't read any Henty books, but I can assure you (or the Post) that the only reason they are focusing on him is the connection to homeschoolers.

    If I write a curriculum using Winnie the Pooh, they will come after me and find something "offensive" to write about. And believe me - it wouldn't just be about the curriculum - it would be about the fact that I homeschool.

    They don't even qualify as a real publication.

  2. Virtually all the people I know who use older materials in their homeschooling are very careful to discuss the less-enlightened attitudes common as artifacts of the authors' times. I know I have to do that frequently with 19th & early 20th century literature. It isn't fair to judge the authors by modern standards.

    I use the analogy of veganism- if that becomes the norm in the future, would it be fair for future individuals to condemn us for eating meat & wearing leather?


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