On my previous post, two readers expressed their doubts about my truthfulness in saying that German textbooks contain what Americans would consider inappropriate content for elementary-age children. To quote myself:
The German books we use have been a funny throwback to the different mindset and culture in Germany. Notwithstanding the fact that all the kids' books are for elementary age or younger, they have so far taught how to ask someone whether they smoke, and how to say that someone is drinking wine or buying beer. Nice sample sentences, eh?
Hi, my name is Isaac. I am eight years old. What is your name? Do you smoke? This is my Mom. She is buying beer and drinking wine.
I think some of the doubters missed the fact that my little sample paragraph of what Isaac could say was a compilation of phrases my children could have learned from their various books, and put together just like that, as expressed by saying "books" and "they have so far taught how to ..." Obviously, it was a hyperbole to illustrate my point, and did not occur in that form in any single one book. Why would German books have a kid named "Isaac" (English spelling) who happens to be the same age as my son Isaac? I realize now my mistake was assuming all my readers were discerning and intelligent, and for that I apologize.
That post contained pictures that had been altered by me to "dress" a little boy who had appeared in the book nude, twice. So there was no arguing with that point. Just for the record, the book in question was "Werkstatt Deutsch als Zweitsprache B."
In fact, one of the two doubters even admitted in her comment that nudity was commonplace even in children's books in Germany. She said: "We do have pictures of naked kids in kids' textbooks, that's true. That's because over here no one has a problem with that. [...] I don't see why you would be so extremely biased against a country that is, after all, pretty civilized as a whole."
Call me crazy, but I don't think civilized people find it normal to have books with pictures of naked kids. I mean, Michael Jackson did, but he is hardly representative of civilized people.
So let's move on from there to beer and wine. I will be showing samples below from "Deutsch Ganz Einfach," published by Lük as a German as a second language course for kids in grades 1-6, as well as the workbook for the reader "Lesen, Lachen, Sachen machen", which is a book teaching 1st graders to read.
Find the correct plural form: "Mrs. Polina drinks two glasses of wine."
Connect to make correct sentences: "Renate drinks a glass of wine."
Color all fields that contain the sound taught on this page (long i sound - "ie"): "Bier" (yes, that's beer in English. It's not like they were scraping the bottom of the barrel for words with this diphthong - there are literally thousands of words they could have picked from.
The kids have another book I remember seeing last week where the family is eating at a restaurant and it talks about Dad drinking a beer, but I could not find it tonight because I don't remember which book it was in (they have a lot of books).
Next: smoking. Again, a recurring theme. I am drawing on the same books as mentioned above.
"Things I want to do: smoke with Indians"
"Things I also do: I smoke." Please note: this is spoken while also drinking a glass of wine.
Connect pronouns with correct verb forms: "you smoke"
Finally, for some comic relief, I will add other weird things I have found in the aforementioned books.
"Mrs. Freese and Mr. Duska like to dance the tango." In case you didn't know, tango isn't a dance that is best executed with someone else's spouse.
"What happens at night: The kids are sleeping. Mrs. Neide is still awake. A mosquito stings Mr. Neide in the arm. A robber hurls a rock through the window. [illustrated to really drive the point home with young kids] The neighbor is watching a movie on TV. She calls the police." Am I the only one who thinks a story such as this might scare some younger students? I mean, it makes it sounds like this is what usually happens at night. Have they ever read "Dial 911 and Die!'?
I do believe these books have an intentional agenda. Many of the children in Germany who would be using these books are children of immigrants, many of which come from Muslim backgrounds. In these cultures, smoking, drinking any alcohol, and nudity are forbidden. I do think in an effort to quickly acclimate these children to German "culture", the books lay these issues on extra thick.
And with that, dear readers, I rest my case. I am waiting to get that apology for accusing me of lying, but somehow I have a feeling that all I'll get is more explanations for why I am wrong. Because, as you just saw with your own eyes, German school books for young children do not promote smoking, drinking, or nudity.