ERIC Number: EJ725405
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2005
Reference Count: 29
Strange Bedfellows: The Contradictory Goals of the Coalition Making War on Social Studies
Social Studies, v96 n5 p199 Sep-Oct 2005
In this article, the author discusses the contradictory goals of several groups and individuals that are waging war against social studies and the historians' attitudes in response to this war. He stresses that he is not claiming that these "strange bedfellows," as he comes to call them, that are attacking social studies are working in collusion or that they even think of themselves as allies. Their relationship is probably closer to what Derrick Bell describes as an "interest convergence." The leaders of the current attack on social studies are a loosely structured, diverse coalition, with contradictory political goals, which is funded by foundations and think tanks with strong right-wing ideological leanings. Although there is no single policy board directing the attack on social studies, there is a series of interlocking directorships and memberships that mirror the interlocking relationships used to avoid antitrust laws by corporations. This coalition includes: (1) wealthy corporate leaders, who are promoting patriotic history for profit; (2) "new" Left academics from the sixties who have become a dominant voice in professional historians' organizations and defenders of a new, broader, historical canon; (3) neoconservatives, for whom the war on social studies is part of a general attack on the institution of public education; (4) veterans of the 1980s battle against multicultural education, who view social studies curricula as bastions of "ethnic nationalism" and "cultural particularism;" (5) traditional conservatives, who argue for content-based instruction and rigorous assessment; (6) groups from the "religious right" who blame the social studies approach for undermining religious and moral values in American society; and (7) Chester Finn and the Fordham Foundation, who sponsored the book "Where Did Social Studies Go Wrong?." The author also addresses the four underlying problems with the way historians have functioned in the war against social studies: (1) arrogance; (2) compartmentalization; (3) a depressed job market; and (4) the fact that historians do not get any respect.
Descriptors: Social Studies, History Instruction, Politics of Education, Rhetorical Criticism, United States History, Democracy, Educational Change, Political Affiliation, Educational Policy, Ideology, Social Attitudes
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Opinion Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: United States