Richard J. Maybury - Evaluating Books. PDF

PDF The title of this book is perhaps a bit unfortunate given that the book is so much more than guidelines for selecting books, and also that many people today think (and criticize) more about Jefferson's personal life than they do about his principals regarding government and economics and his work in forming this country.The book is about so much more than that!!! It should be noted that Maybury actually mentions twelve of the most notable Founding Fathers and using their principles to present "the other side of the story" to the viewpoint that is most prevalent (whether explicitly stated or not) in most media today.Maybury feels that most news media, school books, etc. come from a "statist" point of view, meaning, stated simply, that they believe "political power is good and everyone should have lots of it.Its benefits are greater than its costs, and it can solve our problems."Contrast this with the Founding Fathers who "hated political power, were afraid of it, and believed it was fundamentally evil.They believed the only 'real world' solution was to keep power widely dispersed and so limited that no one had much interest in it —it was virtually irrelevant."When one assesses any issue with both viewpoints in mind, they must engage in critical thinking.That is what Maybury wants to see.

Maybury provides tools for navigating through media that is largely from a statist point of view.He does not feel that most authors have formed some conspiracy to brainwash people, but rather that they do not know they are teaching concepts that are opposite of the original American philosophy."They teach only what they were taught."He encourages parents and educators to explore both sides and enter into debates with their students, so that the students can come to understand both the statist and non-statist sides of a particular issue and come to be familiar with both. That will help the students understand better how to analyze the media they are met with on a daily basis.He does not oppose students being introduced to the statist perspective (though it is one that he personally does not believe in) but he feels they should be equipped with the analytical tools to understand that it, like all others, is a perspective, not an objective truth, and that our sources of knowledge should be viewed critically, not with mere acquiesce.

And this includes his own work.

Maybury begins his book with an Author's Disclosure, "For reasons I do not understand, writers today are supposed to be objective.Few disclose the viewpoints or opinions that they use to decide what information is important and what is not, or what shall be presented or omitted."He proceeds to outline his own bias, the one which influences his work, "I am biased in favor of liberty, free markets, and international neutrality." While I think it stands to reason that those who agree with Maybury here will find more to appreciate in his work, I think that the very fact he outlines his own bias is great and should, rather than turn-off those who don't agree, invite them into his work, because they know where he comes from.Naturally, most of the other sources he includes also support his perspective.But, that's just it: it is a perspective.Readers equipped with the critical thinking skills Maybury promotes here will be able to evaluate his work just as they do others. We all come to current events, politics, etc. with our values in place. What helps us grow and mature as human beings is to be able to look at other perspectives—as well as our own!—with critical thinking skills, trying to understand the other person's side of the argument not just ignore it in unyielding favor of our own.

Maybury explains that the danger in our current society is that most mainstream media never gives another side to the issue.(A current events example can be seen in the current GOP race where much of mainstream media chooses to ignore candidate Ron Paul because he does not neatly fit with either of their established political models; it is easier to ignore than to try to understand.)His purpose in writing this book is to awaken students (and adults) to engage in critical thinking and research skills to be able to more keenly assess the information provided to them and to seek out less mainstream sources for an opposing viewpoint so that students can make the most informed and well-rounded choices about what they choose to believe and support.

I would recommend this heartily to high school students, especially those nearing graduation and voting age, as well as to adults who would find benefit in the material for themselves or for sharing with younger kids thorough dialogue.


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