1711006768 The Great Textbook War Throughline NPR | mnfolkarts

The Great Textbook War : Throughline : NPR

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A class of American schoolchildren recite the oath of allegiance before the American flag in September 1956.

Keystone Features/Getty Images

Starting in the 1930s, Harold Rugg, the unofficial father of social studies, published a series of historical textbooks that encouraged students to confront the country’s chronic problems of racism and class conflict. The textbooks set off a firestorm that echoes today’s debates over what kids should and shouldn’t learn in school. The push-and-pull fight over what should be taught — and what should be left out — is deeply woven into the fabric of our civic life. In this episode, we go back almost 100 years, to a battle over textbooks that was really about how kids see their history, their country, and themselves. And we ask the question: what should education do?


Charles Dorn, the Barry N. Wish Professor of Social Studies at Bowdoin College and co-author of Patriotic Education in a Global Age.

Adam Laats, professor of education at Binghamton University and author of The Other School Reformers.

To access bonus episodes and listen to Throughline sponsor-free, subscribe to Throughline+ via Apple Podcasts or at plus.npr.org/throughline.

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