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Something Has Gone Very Wrong

4. I use the term history as encompassing social studies, as do most researchers and students. When the distinction is important, I will make it. Robert Reinhold, Harris Poll, reported in New York Times, July 3, 1971, and quoted in Herbert Aptheker, The Unfolding Drama (New York: International, 1978), 146; Terry Borton, The Weekly Reader National Survey on Education (Middletown, Conn.: Field Publications, 1985), 14, 16; Mark Schug, Robert Todd, and R. Beery, "Why Kids Don't Like Social Studies," Social Education 48 (May 1984): 382-87; Albert Shanker, "The 'Efficient' Diploma Mill," paid column in New York Times, February 14, 1988; Joan M. Shaughnessy and Thomas M. Haladyna, "Research on Student Attitudes Toward Social Studies," Social Education 49 (November 1985): 692-95. National grade averages in 1992 ACT Assessment Results, Summary Report, Mississippi (Iowa City: ACT, 1993), 7. [Return to text.]

5. Diane Ravitch and Chester E. Finn, Jr., What Do Our 17-Year-Olds Know? (New York: Harper and Row, 1987); National Geographic Society, Geography: An International Gallup Survey (Washington, D.C.: National Geographic Society, 1988). [Return to text.]

6. Richard L. Sawyer, "College Student Profiles: Norms for the ACT Assessment, 1980-81" (Iowa City: ACT, 1980). Sawyer finds larger differences by race and income in social studies than in English, mathematics, and the natural sciences. [Return to text.]

7. Years ago Mills discerned that Americans feel a need to locate themselves in social structure in order to understand the forces that shape their society and themselves. See C. Wright Mills, The Sociological Imagination (New York: Oxford University Press, 1959), 3-20. [Return to text.]

8. Paul Goldstein, Changing the American Schoolbook (Lexington, Mass.: D. C. Heath, 1978). Goldstein says textbooks are the organizing principle for more than 75 percent of classroom time. In history, the proportion is even higher. [Return to text.]

9. Mel Gabler's right-wing textbook critics and I concur that textbooks are boring. Mrs. W. Kelley Haralson writes, "The censoring of emotionalism from history texts during the last half century has resulted in history textbooks which are boring to students." "Objections [to The American Adventure]" (Longview, Tex.: Educational Research Analysts, n.d.), 4. We part company in our proposed solutions, however, for the only emotion that Gabler and his allies seem to want to add is pride. [Return to text.]

10. "It's a Great Country," sung with pride by a high school choir from Webster Groves, Missouri, in a CBS News videotape, Sixteen in Webster Groves (New York: Carousel Films, 1966). [Return to text.]

11. In the aftermath of the Vietnam War, Harcourt Brace renamed this last one Triumph of the American Nation. This is the Rambo approach to history: We may have lost the war in Southeast Asia, but we'll win it on the book jackets! [Return to text.]

12. Ravitch and Finn, What Do Our 17-Year-Olds Know?, 49. [Return to text.]

13. Frances FitzGerald, America Revised (New York: Vintage, 1980 [1979]), 93-97. [Return to text.]

14. James Axtell, "Europeans, Indians, and the Age of Discovery in American History Textbooks," American Historical Review 92 (1987): 627. Essays such as Axtell's, which review college-level textbooks, rarely appear in history journals. Almost never are high school textbooks reviewed. [Return to text.]

15. Sales figures are trade secrets, but publishers admit that Triumph is the bestseller, with approximately a quarter of the market. Together The American Pageant, Land of Promise, A History of the Republic, American History, Life and Liberty, and The Challenge of Freedom probably account for another 35 percent. The two inquiry textbooks have gone out of print, presumably due to low sales. [Return to text.]

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