I am not sure what to think of Glen DeVoogd's article "Question Authority," published in the April issue of SLJ and online here. DeVoogd says that kids need to be taught the means and value of questioning texts and curricula: "it's our duty to teach kids to ask serious questions about the authority of the words they read. Our schools need to teach that being skeptical of the curriculum is acceptable." Well, right on. But I get the feeling that DeVoogd has, one, set up a straw man by asserting that children should learn that there was more to discovering America than Columbus. They do. Second, it seems that DeVoogd isn't so much interested in getting kids to think for themselves as he is in getting them to see the world the same way he does: "Ultimately, the goal of critical literacy is to create a more equitable, just world." By whose lights? Conservative critics such as Diane Ravitch and Sandra Stotsky would argue that American education is currently exactly where DeVoogd would like it to be, emphasizing the contributions of women and minorities, for example, at the expense of the whole picture.
I don't know if DeVoogd is responsible for the accompanying resource list, but the inclusion therein of Hoffman's Amazing Grace, Rinaldi's My Heart Is on the Ground, and Jane Yolen's Encounter as "books that expand understanding" is not going to endear DeVoogd to those most likely to otherwise welcome his article: all three books have been targeted by leftist critics for their perceived crimes against history. But if I were in charge of the curriculum, the first thing the kids would be learning is that irony is always waiting to bite you in the ass.