ERIC Number: ED501724
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2008-Jun
Islam in the Classroom: What The Textbooks Tell Us
Sewall, Gilbert T.
Center for Education Studies dba American Textbook Council
This review samples ten of the nation's most widely used junior and senior high school history textbooks comparing what respected historians say about Islam in authoritative histories to what is being said in textbooks. It assesses how today's history textbooks characterize Islam's foundations and creeds; changes and additions that have occurred in textbook material written before 2001; and what textbooks say about terrorism. Further, it assesses what textbooks say about the September 11 air attack on the United States, weapons of mass destruction, Islamic challenges to global security, and looming dangers to the United States and world. The review concludes that many political and religious groups try to use the textbook process to their advantage, but the deficiencies in Islam-related lessons are uniquely disturbing. History textbooks present an incomplete and confected view of Islam that misrepresents its foundations and challenges to international security. Misinformation about Islam is more pronounced in junior high school textbooks than high school textbooks. Outright textbook errors about Islam are not the main problem. The more serious failure is the presence of disputed definitions and claims that are presented as established facts. Deficiencies about Islam in textbooks copyrighted before 2001 persist and in some cases have grown worse. Instead of making corrections or adjusting contested facts, publishers and editors defend misinformation and content evasions against the record. Biases persist. Silences are profound and intentional. Islamist activists use multiculturalism and ready-made American political movements, especially those on campus, to advance and justify uncritical Islam-related content makeover in history textbooks. Particular fault rests with the publishing corporations, the boards of directors, and executives who decide what editorial policies their companies will pursue. [Funding was provided by the Searle Freedom Foundation, Achelis Foundation, and the Stuart Family Foundation.]
Descriptors: Textbook Content, Islam, Bias, Politics of Education, Secondary Schools, History Instruction, Misconceptions, Terrorism
American Textbook Council. 475 Riverside Drive Room 448, New York, NY 10115. Tel: 212-870-2760; Web site: http:/www.historytextbooks.org
Publication Type: Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: Elementary Secondary Education; High Schools; Junior High Schools; Secondary Education
Authoring Institution: American Textbook Council, New York, NY.