ERIC Number: ED313305
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1989
Democracy's Half-Told Story. What American History Textbooks Should Add.
The first purpose of a high school course in U.S. history must be to help students understand the essence of democracy and those events, institutions, and forces that have either promoted or obstructed it. This review examines five textbooks and analyzes how useful they are in aiding that process, and how they might be made more helpful. The five texts are: (1) "A History of the United States" (D. Boorstin; B. Kelley); (2) "History of a Free People" (H. Bragdon; S. McCutchen); (3) "The United States: A History of the Republic" (J. Davidson; M. Lytle); (4) "People and Our Country" (N. Risjord; T. Haywoode); (5) "Triumph of the American Nation" (L. Todd; M. Curti). The texts are reviewed using topic divisions such as: "History's Role in Civic Education"; "Old World Backgrounds";"Civil War and Emancipation"; "Change and Reform Before World War I"; and "Depression, New Deal, and War Again." The textbooks under review are at one and the same time over-detailed and under-detailed: the first, because they try to mention something about everything; the second, because they fail to develop major themes in depth. They labor too hard to balance affirmation and negation of U.S. history, and the result is a detached neutrality, passionless about both the ugly and the beautiful moments in that history. The texts should convey the complication, drama, suspense, and the paradox of comedy and tragedy found in history. The Education for Democracy Project's Statement of Principles and its signatories are given in the appendix. (PPB)
Descriptors: Educational Objectives, History Instruction, History Textbooks, Secondary Education, Social Studies, Textbook Content, Textbook Evaluation, Textbook Research, United States History
Democracy's Half-Told Story, American Federation of Teachers, 555 New Jersey Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20001 (1-10, $7.00, additional copies $5.00).
Publication Type: Books; Opinion Papers
Education Level: N/A
Audience: Teachers; Researchers; Practitioners
Sponsor: National Endowment for the Humanities (NFAH), Washington, DC.; Pew Memorial Trust, Philadelphia, PA.
Authoring Institution: American Federation of Teachers, Washington, DC.
Note: For related documents, see EJ 357 591, EJ 366 773, EJ 379 293 and SO 018 637.