This article appeared in the
in The Textbook Letter, July-August 2000.
Sometimes they do this in their advertisements or their promotional pitches. Recall, for example, Jeana D. Levinthal's account of some stuff that she saw in the teacher's edition of Glencoe Health. Levinthal wrote:
The book opens with a long sales pitch aimed at the teacher. "Glencoe Health is current," the pitchman says. "It's relevant. And it deals with the most critical issues in health education by going in-depth and striking a personal chord with your students."
Further claims appear to push the idea that a teacher who uses Glencoe Health will be able to give a course without having to do much of anything. "Every page," the pitchman says, "represents hours of research and preparation. So you don't have to do it -- we already have." To dispel suspicions that the teacher may have to know something about health, he says that "All answers to Lesson Reviews and Chapter Reviews are provided," and he declares: "You name it, and we've done it for you." [see note 1, below]
When I analyzed the pitch that Levinthal had quoted, I saw that it could be frugally restated. Glencoe was saying, in effect: "Look, teacher, you're a helpless ignoramus, and you can only hope to fake your way through a course by parroting material that you find in a book. We can say this right to your face, and you still will give us your money, because you're utterly desperate."
Other cases go beyond the promotional claims that a publisher uses in selling a given book. Sometimes the book itself contains items that seem to have been contrived in a spirit of derision, as if the publisher's writers or illustrators were gleefully mocking the teacher and saying: "You're so ignorant that we can even get away with this!"
Let me demonstrate what I mean by telling you about a trick that Glencoe has played in History of a Free Nation, a high-school book that allegedly deals with American history [note 2].
The picture shown below is a detail from a photograph was taken at Ellis Island in 1905 by the American photographer Lewis Hine. It portrays a family of Italian immigrants aboard the ferry that will carry them from Ellis Island to Manhattan.
We all have seen Hine's photo before, because it has become a classic and has often been used in legitimate publications. And until Glencoe got hold of it, it always has looked much like the reproduction which you see here -- a reproduction of the gelatin-silver print that Hine made more than 90 years ago.
Please turn to the next page to see what Glencoe, in History of a
Free Nation, has done to Hine's work.