ERIC Number: ED289807
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1987-Oct
American History Textbooks: An Assessment of Quality.
Sewall, Gilbert T.
United States history as a linchpin in the school curriculum and as a potentially exciting, sometimes electrifying, subject was the conviction underlying this analysis of U.S. history textbooks. This assessment investigates the capacity of leading U.S. social studies and history textbooks to inspire the imagination of students through effective literary, pictorial, and historigraphic techniques. Twelve panelists of historians, journalists, editors, and teachers were charged to act as expert reviewers of textbooks at the fifth, eighth, and eleventh grade levels. The review specifically sought to examine books in depth and to identify and review those texts already established in the marketplace. The reviewers found that many U.S. history textbooks strive for simple, inoffensive prose that often lacks the qualities of good literature and fine history. While these textbooks may be effective reference materials, they are not compilations aimed at inspiring and exciting the reader through vital treatment of subject. Recommendations of the panelists include: (1) scaling down the size of textbooks; (2) rededicating textbooks to the text; (3) hiring better textbook writers; (4) emphasizing primary source materials; (5) putting minority group issues into historical context; and (6) initiating textbook review by independent sources, such as newspapers and news magazines. (SM)
Descriptors: Elementary Secondary Education, Grade 11, Grade 5, Grade 8, History Instruction, Political Influences, Publishing Industry, Readability Formulas, Social Studies, Textbook Bias, Textbook Content, Textbook Evaluation, Textbook Publication, Textbook Selection, United States History
Educational Excellence Network, Box 32, Teachers College, Columbia University, New York, NY 10027 ($4.00).
Publication Type: Guides - Non-Classroom; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: N/A
Audience: Teachers; Administrators; Practitioners
Sponsor: Department of Education, Washington, DC.
Authoring Institution: Columbia Univ., New York, NY. Teachers College.