Opinion

These Textbook Errors Are ‘Funny’ Yet Unforgivable

Why are there so many errors in textbooks?
IMAGE Mario Alvaro Limos
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Why are there so many errors in textbooks, modules, and take-home worksheets provided by schools?

“Typos and content errors should not exist in textbooks,” a friend said. “If broadsheets can manage to print daily news without any errors on its pages, why can’t publishing houses?”

He was right. Broadsheets only have a day to write, proof, lay out, edit, and print their newspapers. On the other hand, a single title for a grade school textbook ideally takes six months to a year to finish. That would have undergone at least 20 redrafts from proofreaders, copy editors, senior editors, the author, and the editor in chief. 

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Before being sold to students, these materials are distributed to schools for evaluation. No book will be carried by any school without its contents being approved by the teachers and the admin. They check to see if the content is aligned with the DepEd’s learning competencies and social content guidelines. They also make sure the content is error-free. 

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That means when you buy a book being distributed by your child’s school, there is an assurance that the books are perfect, error-free, and do not contain offensive social content. But the reality is far from that. 

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Whether it’s because of incompetence, careless abandon, or both, some of these error-laden, socially offensive books found their way into our children’s backpacks. 

For starters, here’s one that implies brown-skinned Filipinos are less beautiful and girls should get a perm to be prettier

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Another material that has gone viral in recent days is a module for preschool students. In different shades of black, it tells students to identify the colors pink, blue, red, green, and yellow. 

This reading and writing textbook for preschoolers, whose author signed off in the foreword as “Wounded Healer, has some very questionable logic. 

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Photo by Mario Alvaro Limos.

Why are quails terrible? Poor bird. 

 

Photo by Mario Alvaro Limos.
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But giraffes are far from meek and mild. Here are a couple of headlines about giraffes attacking humans: 

• Giraffe Kills Filmmaker In South Africa 

• A Giraffe Reportedly Killed a Cyclist in South Africa

• Giraffe Attack Reminds Us How Unpredictable Animals Can Be

 

Photo by Mario Alvaro Limos.

We're glad to know ostriches make a big difference in our lives. 

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This textbook for grade 3 suggests it is normal to have hundreds of Mathematics textbooks on your shelf for reading materials. 

Photo by Mario Alvaro Limos.

And finally, this viral module for preschoolers has parents scratching their heads for a correct answer.

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Why are there so many errors?

Having undergone so many layers of review and editing, it’s a wonder how so many educational materials aren’t so educational at all. 

Why did teachers or school administrators approve these educational materials? Did they think the materials are perfect? Probably, they did not read what they were supposed to evaluate prior to recommending it to thousands of parents. 

These days, modules have replaced many textbooks because of the pandemic. They are written without so much regard for grammar, logic, and consistency because they did not undergo the same editing process as textbooks. 

In 2019, the DepEd defended “error-filled” textbooks in public schools, saying the grammatical errors are matters of usage and editorial preference. It was the Commission on Audit who pointed out the errors. 

READ MORE ABOUT BAD EDUCATION

One Week Into Online Classes, Parents and Students Call for Academic Freeze

Catholic Schools Group Says Sorry for Sexually Suggestive Content in Modules

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Maybe it’s the authors, teachers, or editors who are at fault. But the DepEd’s seeming lack of indignation at these errors is a telling sign of the state of our educational system.

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Mario Alvaro Limos
Features Editor, Esquire Philippines
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