Professor Erling Hunt and Textbook Wars

| January 8, 2013
Erling Hunt

Erling Hunt

For those of you interested in textbook wars, you might  take a look at these writings by Professor Erling M. Hunt, former head of the department of teaching social sciences at Teachers College and editor of Social Education. Below are drafts of reports written about the state of history textbooks in the United States. Written in the 1960’s, much of  the first two documents focus on the pervasive fear of communism at the time, but readers may find some similarities with contemporary history textbook conflicts: battles between different political camps, the textbooks themselves are often boring and dumbed down, avoid controversy, and only barely scratch the surface of the country’s complicated and controversial history.

In the third link below, by comparing quotes from editions of the same textbook, Hunt  traces the progression from the 1930’s to the 1950’s from offensive and derogatory terms for  minorities and immigrants to less offensive expressions (at least at the time), but also demonstrates a trend toward simpler language and  a more uncontroversial version of history.

How American is American History

History Textbooks Under Attack

Attacks Upon Textbooks

If you would like to read more from Professor Hunt about teaching social studies, you can check out his pocket on  PocketKnowledge.

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