Foreign language education in the U.S.: a neglected cure for xenophobia

Xenophobia has deep roots in the U.S. For all of its “global melting pot” rhetoric, the reality has been much more complex. It begins with the maltreatment of the native peoples of America with its attendant extinction of their language and culture. But even as recently as 1923, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that persons from India were not eligible for U.S. citizenship because only “free white persons” were permitted. This case was one of the most egregious in the history of the United States and is a poignant example of how the Supreme Court reflects, rather than transcends, prevailing cultural values.

Modern textbook design: an architecture for distraction

The design of textbooks in common use at all levels from elementary school through high school are appallingly bad. I’ve come to this conclusion after several years of carefully looking at my sons' books as they went through public middle and high school. What follows is a critique of very common design “features” in these books in reference to visual information design principles. Since I’m not a subject expert in the content of the disciplines presented, I’ll just refer to the visual design, typography and information design principles in general.