ERIC Number: ED137197
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1976-Jul-1
Reference Count: 0
Students, History Textbooks, and the Hidden Dimension. Occasional Paper Number 77-1.
Since history textbooks omit and/or emphasize certain data, students are left with a false sense of history. Although the "hard data" presented in history texts is generally regarded as reliable, the selection and organization of that data is inherently manipulative because other data has been excluded. Because authors do not begin with a description of the frame of reference which underlies their work, most historical writings have a hidden subjectivity. Three discovery exercises are presented to help secondary or undergraduate students overcome manipulation by texts and promote independent thought. In the first exercise, students identify data about the period 1972-76 which historians might include in one chapter of a text in the year 2050. Once a list of social, economic, and political data has been compiled, students decide which to emphasize and which to eliminate. Lack of concensus will demonstrate how objectivity becomes impossible. Classes can analyze their own texts from this perspective. Exercise two emphasizes how different forms of textbook organization lead the reader towards certain understandings and deemphasize others. In the third exercise, students try to select objective, analytical questions about given periods of history. An assignment to write ten objective sentences and ten analytical statements can point out that the distinction between "objective" and "analytical" is often not clear. (AV)
Publication Type: Books
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: State Univ. of New York, Stony Brook. American Historical Association Faculty Development Program.