School Textbook Confusing Judaism, Islam Withdrawn

A religious studies textbook is so littered with errors confusing Judaism and Islam that it has produced a leaflet of corrections.

Rachel Hirshfeld ,

High school students (illustrative)
High school students (illustrative)
Israel news photo: Flash 90

A religious studies textbook is so littered with errors confusing Judaism and Islam that it has prompted a school to produce its own four-page leaflet of corrections, The Telegraph reported.

The AQA English exam board’s religious studies textbook for the General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE), produced by the educational publishers Nelson Thornes, was so ridden with misinformation that staff at the Jewish Free School (JFS), in Kenton, North West London, have been forced to issue a list of corrections.

"It was so bad, the teacher kept telling us, 'Don't listen to this, ignore this, half of this is wrong,’” one student said.

The Telegraph report quotes a parent telling the Jewish Chronicle, “The textbook contains countless errors and general, confused assertions about Judaism. The factual errors are laughably bad.”

"A section headed 'Reform Judaism' in fact talks about the practice of Orthodox Jews. A picture of a person kneeling in prayer, described as a Jew, is in fact a Muslim, while a picture of Jews ostensibly at a Seder table, is a Shabbat meal,” the parent continued. "Other assertions in the text, including commentaries on women who wear wigs, and why Jews think they do what they do, are misleading and offensive."

Religious studies GCSE is a compulsory examination at JFS and an estimated 300 students take the exam each year. The parent said that GCSE students at JFS had been instructed to look at the school's corrections each time they needed to refer to the textbook.

JFS had to reach agreement with the AQA that if students used the correct information about Judaism it would not be marked incorrect by examiners, because it did not coincide with the information in the textbook.

"AQA doesn't publish text books. We do liaise with publishers to try to ensure references to our syllabus are accurate; however the publisher is responsible for the content of the book and, therefore, any errors,” said a spokesperson for AQA.

"JFS brought the errors to our attention and we raised them with the publisher,” the spokesperson continued. “This book is being reprinted by the publisher and we have asked them to address these concerns."

The school's head-teacher, Jonathan Miller, said, "We have worked closely with AQA over the past year and are pleased that they are preparing a new draft of the Judaism text book which will deal with any inaccuracies."

Steven Mintz, the head of Jewish studies at Manchester's King David High School, confirmed that he had co-written the textbook, but declined to comment further, according to The Telegraph.