From Iceland — Racist Textbook Pulled After Vocab Lesson Posted On Facebook

Racist Textbook Pulled After Vocab Lesson Posted On Facebook

Published January 18, 2014

Larissa Kyzer
Photo by
Jón Geir Jóhannsson

A primary school textbook teaching racist terminology has been pulled from classes at the Varmárskóli school in Mosfellsbær after father Jón Geir Jóhannsson posted a photograph of his daughter’s nightly vocab lesson on Facebook, Vísir reports. “It’s self-evident that this was a mistake—we have pulled this book out of circulation,” said principal Þórhildur Elvarsdóttir.

Jón Geir posted a photograph of his second grade daughter’s nightly homework on Facebook last night with the message, “Maybe it’s time to update the elementary school’s teaching materials?” The photograph was shared widely and quickly picked up by local media.

The reading exercise in question reads:

Men on earth are not all the same. Black people are called negroes. They mostly live in Africa. Yellow men are called mongols. They mostly live in Asia. Red men are called redskins or indians. They mostly live in America. Brown men are called malayans. They mostly live in South Asia.

“It surprised me when I saw it,” said Jón Geir. “I thought that this [language] didn’t exist any longer but it has to be considered strange that such a plainly outdated publication is still being taught.”

Þórhildur said that the book has been used as supplementary material and there are only a few copies in the school. “Teachers have used the book in order to give students extra practice, but it has probably not been examined closely enough.” The book was quickly taken out of use this morning. “We very much regret this,”  Þórhildur continued. “It was an unfortunate mistake.”

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