Quote

Paula Rothenberg on the traditional curriculum

“The traditional curriculum teaches all of us to see the world through the eyes of privileged, white, European males and to adopt their interests and perspectives as our own. It calls books by middle-class, white, male writers “literature” and honors them as timeless and universal, while treating the literature produced by everyone else as idiosyncratic and transitory. The traditional curriculum intro- Representing Multiple Viewpoints and Voices ~ r 7r duces the (mythical) white middle-class, patriarchal, heterosexual family and its values and calls it “Introduction to Psychology.” It teaches the values of white men of property and position and calls it “Introduction to Ethics.” It reduces the true majority of people in this society to “women and minorities,” and calls it “political science.” It teaches the art produced by privileged white men in the West and calls it “art history.”

The curriculum effectively defines this point of view as “reality” rather than a point of view itself, and then assures us that it and it alone is “neutral” and “objective.” It teaches all of us to use white male values and culture as the standard by which everyone and everything else is to be measured and found wanting. It defines “difference” as “deficiency” (deviance, pathology). By building racism, sexism, heterosexism, and class privilege into its very definition of “reality,” it implies the current distribution of wealth and power in society, as well as the current distribution of time and space in the traditional curriculum, reflects the natural order of things.

… Women of all colors, men of color, and working people are rarely if ever subjects or agents. They appear throughout history at worst as objects, at best as victims. According to this curriculum, only people of color have race and only women have gender, only lesbians and gays have sexual orientation — everyone else is a human being. This curriculum values the work of killing and conquest over production and reproduction of life. It offers abstract, oppositional thinking as the paradigm for intellectual rigor.”

––Paula Rothenberg, quoted in Representing multiple viewpoints and voices: Beyond the Great Story: History as Text and Discourse, by Berkhofer, Robert F., Jr, 1997