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Curriculum

Decanonizing the Field

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Edited By João M. Paraskeva and Shirley R. Steinberg

Curriculum: Decanonizing the Field is a fresh and innovative collection that is concerned with the totalitarian Western Eurocentric cult that has dominated the field of curriculum studies. Contributors to this volume challenge dominant and counter-dominant curriculum positions of the Western Eurocentric epistemic platform. At a time when the field laudably claims internationalization as a must, arguments presented in this volume prove that this «internationalization» is nothing more than the new Western expansionism, one that dominates all other cultures, economies and knowledges. Curriculum: Decanonizing the Field is a clarion call against curriculum epistemicides, proposing the use of Itinerant Curriculum Theory (ICT), which opens up the canon of knowledge; challenges and destroys the coloniality of power, knowledge and being; and transforms the very idea and practice of power. The volume is essential reading for anyone involved in one of the most important battles for curriculum relevance – the fact that there is no social justice without cognitive justice.
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Chapter 35. Exploding the Canon: Historical Contextualizing as a Means for Social Justice

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·35·

EXPLODING THE CANON

Historical Contextualizing as a Means for Social Justice

Thad LaVallee

Introduction

Go into the history classroom of any public high school in the United States and examine the textbook used by the students. Turn to the index and search for Thomas Sankara, Augusto Sandino, Dennis Banks, Eugene Debs, or Ernesto Guevara. Chances are those names will either be totally absent from the book, or, if they do happen to appear, they will only be mentioned in passing and in a disparaging light.

Likewise, try to find references to Oliver North, Anastasio Somoza, Joseph McCarthy, Rafid Ahmed Alwan al-Janabi, or Augusto Pinochet. Again, these figures will likely be absent or, if they do appear, will be portrayed favorably.

Ask students if they have even heard of the names mentioned above. Likely, the response will be in the negative. It’s no mistake that this is the case. K–12 history education has been canonized by large textbook companies. As has been well documented, these textbook companies create their publications to match the ideologies of the largest school boards in the country that purchase their materials—namely, Texas. These same textbooks, once printed, get distributed and purchased by other districts in regions throughout the country. Thus they serve as the basis for a national curriculum of history education for almost the entire school-age population of the nation. ← 685 | 686 → As a result...

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