History Social Science Textbook Controversies Term Paper

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History/Social Science Textbook Controversy

History and Social Science Textbook Controversy

The controversy with textbooks has been plaguing our education systems far longer than many people realize. Beginning as far back as the 40s there have been disagreements over content and editing of textbooks, especially in the areas of History and Social Science (Zimmerman 2004). These disagreements have generated a tug of war between educators, politicians, parents, and historians that seems to have little chance of reaching a solution that satisfies everyone concerned.

The majority of textbook controversies are centered around religious and political issues. Often, religious groups speak up against certain textbooks because of a bad or biased representation that affects the reputation of the religious group, or, worse yet, perpetuates stereotypes or presents skewed viewpoints as fact. One example of this kind of issue is the recent California textbook controversy involving a State Board approved history text and the Vedic Foundation, and the American Hindu Education Foundation. The claims of the Hindu rights organizations was the sixth grade History and Social Science textbooks were presenting biased materials to students through their portrayal of the Hinduism and ancient Indian history (Faulconor & Freeman 2005). This problem, unfortunately, reflects the current sociopolitical atmosphere in America, however, textbooks should be objective sources of information, not an avenue of generating or perpetuating the opinions and prejudices of the author.Download full Download Microsoft Word File
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Term Paper on History Social Science Textbook Controversies Assignment

Of course, there are other cases where neither the problem, nor the solution is absolutely explicit. In 1975 the Heritage Foundation, a conservative watchdog group designed to "formulate and promote conservative public policies based on the principles of free enterprise, limited government, individual freedom, traditional American values, and a strong national defense," (Heritage Foundation 2006) encouraged the publication of an article by Onalee McGraw that attributed the decline of quality in public education to a trend towards Atheism. His solution was targeted at eliminating Humanism in textbooks and throughout the entire educational system. Eventually, in 1987, this issue came to a head in the Alabama Federal District Court. 44 history and home economic textbooks were banned from the county's public school system claiming that these texts promoted secular humanism, which in their eyes equated to Atheism. Though the judgment was appealed later that same year, this case truly epitomizes the web of complications that this issues is tangled in (Zimmerman 2004).

Whereas the controversy begins with a focus on the topic of religion in schools, the actual content of these textbooks made even avid humanists uneasy because of their extreme cases of revisionist history. For example, these texts attempted to remove all traces of the Christian history from America.

In one book the Pilgrims are identified as "people who make long trips." The discussion of Thanksgiving neglected to mention who they were thanking. According to a New Republic writer, religious groups, if they were mentioned at all, were usually portrayed as the lunatic fringe. The index to the book Our Land, Our Time was typical: it listed "religious cults," but not "religion," "Christianity," "Catholicism," or "Judaism" (Garvey 1995).

These examples illustrate the fine line between political correctness and omission to the point of falsification of historic facts.

The government has made steps to deal with these issues, but these proposed solutions have generated controversy within themselves. The National Standards for United States History is a document that stirred up controversy before it was even released to the public. Upon her review of the document, Lynne Cheney, former chairperson of the National Endowment for the Humanities in the Reagan and Bush administrations, charged that the standards proposed were in itself promoting biases. She states that "the authors save their unqualified admiration for people, places, and events that are politically correct," and that the standards offered heavy doses of multiculturalism and obsession with such things as McCarthyism (19 references), racism (the Ku Klux Klan is mentioned 17 times), and mistreatment of indigenous peoples but give little attention to some of the core developments and figures of American history (Cheney 1994). Rush Limbaugh agreed with Cheney and offered a simple statement of what the study of history should be.

The problem is when you try to skew history by, "Well, let's interpret what happened… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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"History Social Science Textbook Controversies."  Essaytown.com.  July 11, 2006.  Accessed April 12, 2021.
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