Textbook publishers censor learning material to avoid problems with religious groups

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The four largest Dutch publishers of textbooks are censoring their teaching materials for elementary schools for fear of repercussions from strictly religious Christian organizations, according to the NRC. Editors have asked writers and illustrators to avoid topics like makeup, short skirts, Sunday sports, carnival, and evolution because editors don’t want to lose heavily religious clients.

The four publishers in question are Malmberg, Zwijsen, Noordhoff and ThiemeMeulenhoff, the NRC said.

Censorship of school materials hinders children’s educational development, independent authors and illustrators told the newspaper. “I don’t think this is acceptable for a publisher of school books,” author Annemarie Bon said.

His colleague Marc ter Horst agreed that avoiding subjects, such as evolution, “misses the chance to interest children in history and biology. It does children a disservice.”

Many elementary schools are unaware that censorship is taking place. “What you don’t know you don’t see,” said Linda Morssinkhof, principal of the Montessori public school in Zwolle. Some schools wanted more transparency from publishers.

Gerdien Lassche, a teacher at the remedial elementary school, said she believed censorship was warranted in some cases. “You can call it cleaning. As a Christian, you have an obligation to prepare children well for their life in society, ”said the teacher.

“We appreciate that students work with learning materials that cannot in any way harm individuals or groups,” Malmberg wrote on his website.

Responding to an employee who expressed her criticism of the guidelines, Malmberg said in an email that “the guidelines are exaggerated and not of this era,” while continuing to censor the material.


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