Research Paper: Author Bias With Respect to Social Studies Textbooks

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¶ … Bias With Respect to Social Studies Textbooks

It has been said that the winners of wars write the history books, and that conquering cultures create their own reimagining of past events which were recorded for posterity by those who have fallen. The modern incarnation of this age old truth can be seen in the case of academic textbooks used throughout elementary, secondary, and collegiate education. While ostensibly representing an objective record of scholarly subjects, the wealth of material presented in social studies textbooks is not incontrovertible in the way of a mathematical equation, and in that respect is subject to the subjective interpretation of its author. The phenomenon of author bias affecting the composition and construction of social studies textbooks has been routinely documented throughout the duration of America's modern education system, with anti-Japanese sentiment infiltrating the textbooks read by schoolchildren studying during World War II, and liberal opposition to racial segregation openly expressed in textbooks authored during the 1970's civil rights movement. A comprehensive research study conducted in 1988 produced a report entitled Bias in Social Studies Textbooks: New Research Findings, which revealed that the vast majority of instructional materials used in social studies classes were marred by overt displays of cultural insensitivity, distortions of fact designed to deemphasize America's past repression, and the subtle inclusion of ideological agendas (Dhand). By examining the available literature on the subject to be published in the wake of Dhand's groundbreaking research on author bias within educational resources, it is possible to determine exactly how this phenomenon affects the delivery of quality learning outcomes.

Careful observation of the new research integration methods used by academic publishers, conducted by research published by the Academy of Management Learning and Education, has consistently demonstrated that because "we cannot show that author preference, bias, or familiarity is an easy explanation for content, but we also cannot rule it out ... The extent to which author bias affects textbook content must be explored in future research, and such study is warranted" (Stambaugh & Trank, 2010). Simply put, the content contained in social studies textbooks and other academic materials is continually evolving to reflect shifting social circumstances. With the demand for up-to-date information driven by a publishing industry that derives massive profits from printing new editions of textbooks on an annual basis, there will inevitably be biased authors who are hired to write pages, chapters, or entire volumes. The pernicious influence of corporate ownership also means that parent companies can dictate the publishing agenda of firms who have positioned themselves as the largest textbook companies in the nation. Awareness of potential author bias in textbooks has also grown in conjunction with the segmentation of the instructional material market, where a recently uproar in Florida over alleged pro-Islamic and anti-Christian bias in the state's social studies… [END OF PREVIEW]

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"Author Bias With Respect to Social Studies Textbooks."  Essaytown.com.  May 10, 2013.  Accessed October 18, 2019.
https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/author-bias-respect-social-studies/6479181.