Not only math is "integrated" in Wayzata district

When I heard this year that the Wayzata School District had recently adopted the textbook, Vocabulary from Classical Roots by Norma Fifer and Nancy Flowers (Educators Publishing Service, Cambridge and Toronto), I was pleased.

I am a technical writer by profession, I love language, and insist that my own children learn to communicate effectively in writing and speech. So the study of Greek and Latin roots seemed to me a back-to-basics, classical approach to English instruction.

I was half right.

Classical Roots does indeed teach word strategies and etymologies, but I can also see how world views are being "integrated" into language arts as they have been in integrated math. These word usage examples are from the Fifer and Flowers Classical Roots book (the boldface word is the vocabulary word being studied):

  • The perseverance and hard work of Spanish-speaking Mexican immigrants were responsible for the prosperous economy of the Southwest in the nineteenth century.
  • History shows that although men have often expected women to be subservient, many women have resisted domination.
  • Historian Elizabeth Longford writes that "as playthings or household slaves, women were distorted the world over."
  • During his presidency, Jimmy Carter mediated disagreements between Israel and Egypt.
  • Although twice elected prime minister of Great Britian, Sir Winston Churchill was considered an academic mediocrity as a schoolboy.
  • Environmentalists say that at this juncture we must protect rain forests around the globe to prevent harmful atmospheric changes.
  • Because of stringent budget cuts, some schools could no longer finance programs in music and art.
  • The Jamestown settlers were long on visionary schemes but short on funds and common sense.
  • The repertoire of folk singer Joan Baez includes songs in both Spanish and English.
  • The Mexican rebel Emiliano Zapata advocated the rights of peasant farmers against powerful landlords.
  • Recognizing the need to build new schools, the community assented to the higher property tax.
  • Although the later works of the English writer John Dunne are sermons and serious religious verse, his youthful creations are witty and profane love poems.
  • You profane a mosque by entering it with shoes on.
  • Her friends and neighbors in the favelas, or slums, didn't realize that Carolina Maria de Jesus was a literary prodigy whose diary would become Brazil's all-time bestseller.
  • Although she was a loyal Republican, her views on taxation differ ideologically from party policy.
We've come a long way from "First in war, first in peace, first in the hearts of his countrymen." These statements may be worthy of debate, but notice how they remain unchallenged since they appear in a language arts, and not a social studies textbook. Is the intent here to teach language, or something else?