Frightening Text Books and Curricula

Last year (Dec 2011) when I attended the NCSS National Conference in Washington DC, one of the workshops I sat in on was on the topic of what was being done to Social Studies curricula across the nation, especially now that very little federal attention was being paid to SS and especially History course construction. What was clearly stated was the very conservative slant that several states had created for their public schools’ US History courses. This site ( is a sampling of what many texts and courses have as featured content. In my mind, sort of scary. I realize in the minds of educators and legislators from other parts of the nation, what we in the northeast might think and might be teaching is equally alarming, but while we may question events in our history as to motives and causes, we usually stay away from outright distortion of  – or even worse, creation of – facts (sort of reminds me of Daniel Moynihan’s great line – “You are entitled to your own opinion, but not entitled to your own facts.”). However, my concern here is that this approach in states does little to generate critical thinking; in fact it dictates what to think. This is not how history is to be taught. History is a great debate/argument (My favorite book: Thirteen American Arguments by Howard Fineman) and it should be taught as such, and encouraged as such.

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