International Headlines Leave Textbooks Behind

December 22, 1991|By Greg Tasker | Greg Tasker,Staff writer

Woe to Carroll's social studies, political science and geography teachers.

These are turbulent times we live in. With events changing daily in the Soviet Union (not to mention elsewhere in the world), teachers have had to discard long-used textbooks and maps for more up-to-date materials.

The day-to-day changes have made the district's textbooks and teaching guides obsolete. And there's no point buying new textbooks and maps until life in the Soviet Union becomes stable.

Consider the dilemma for educators. Here are some of the events that have occurred in the Soviet Union just since mid-August:

Two weeks before schoolstarted, a coup by hard-liners failed. Around the time school started, the Soviet Congress of People's Deputies recognized the independence of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia.

In late November, Soviet President Mikhail S. Gorbachev and seven of the republics failed to agreeon a treaty.

Two weeks later, Ukraine declared independence and formed a new commonwealth of independent states with Byelarus and Russia.

Moscow will no longer be the capital. Minsk, in Byelarus, willbe.

And earlier this year, Leningrad, a city of about 5 million, returned to its former name, St. Petersburg. But it's still Leningradin the schools' atlases.

"I've never seen anything like this," said Donald Vetter, Carroll's supervisor of social studies. "It's shocking. I never thought I'd see something like this."

Vetter said juniors and seniors who learn about the Soviet Union in elective coursesare receiving their information from news magazines and newspapers. "We can use those kinds of things to bring students up to date," Vetter said. "It's such a hot topic. It's difficult to follow. But using materials from the media is generally how we deal with any kind of breaking news."

He noted that it's not only Soviet maps and textbooks that have become outdated. Schoolbooks also don't show a reunited Germany or discuss recent events in China.

"We don't have that kindof in-depth information to provide yet," he said, noting teachers have supplemented textbooks with magazines.

Bruce Damasio, chairman of the social studies department at Liberty High School, said that while most students have not had classes on the Soviet Union, the stateof affairs there pop up in classroom discussions.

"We have maps and textbooks, but our textbooks and maps are hideously out of date because of all the changes," he said.

The school's maps, for example, still show St. Petersburg as Leningrad.

"We point out the name change," he said. "We try to point out changes as best we can. Kids aren't receiving a complete unit (class) on the Soviet Union; it's beenmore of enrichment or awareness activities."

Damasio said that during breaking news, such as the Persian Gulf war, he makes transparencies of newspaper headlines to show students. He also displays newspaper front pages for students.

"We use resources the public has," he said. "Companies can't print maps fast enough. The country hasn't established itself to a point where things are consistent. It's reallycost-prohibitive to change atlases.

"Things are still in such a state of flux that we have to supplement existing resources with outside maps and videos," he added. "That's the best you can do at this point."

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