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They All Look The Same

I've been assigned to teach World Regional Geography next year, so I'm looking through textbooks to decide what to assign. The first book I opened up was Michael Bradshaw et al's Contemporary World Regional Geography. Among the many sidebars and pullout boxes in the "Africa South of the Sahara" chapter is one giving a "personal view" about Yaa Boadi, a woman in Ghana who overcame poverty to become a world-class engineer. The box's text -- an excerpt of a Financial Times article that includes not a single quote from the woman whose "personal view" this supposedly is -- is questionable enough. But what boggles my mind is the picture, a mug shot captioned "A Ghanaian woman similar to Yaa Boadi."

"Similar to?"

UPDATE: An interesting twist emerged when I realized I was looking at the previous edition of the book (I had the publisher send me the previous edition, because I wanted to factor into my decision whether students would be able to get by using an older edition, since that would be cheaper for them to buy). The newer edition had the same "personal view" box, with the same photo -- but this time the photo was captioned "Yaa Boadi." The photo credit also changed -- the newer edition credited to Todd Shapera, who wrote the article, but the older edition credits it to Reuters/Corbis.


Blogger Alon Levy said...

I'm happy that you test textbooks for compatibility with old editions. I can only wish they did that in math, where the leading textbooks issue a new edition every 2-3 years and change all the exercise numbers so that you can't do homework with a used copy.

11:55 PM  

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