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Justin Reich Harvard Graduate School of Education.

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Presentation on theme: "Justin Reich Harvard Graduate School of Education."— Presentation transcript:

1 Justin Reich Harvard Graduate School of Education

2 How was General History instruction and curriculum implemented in the century following English Highs establishment? What were the narratives in General History textbooks used in 19 th century Boston, and how did those narratives articulate Americas place in human history? To what extent does historical instruction in 19 th century Boston cohere or conflict with the literature of 19 th century social studies in America?

3 The AHA and the Seven effectively gave birth to modern history education in the United States. Orill and Shaprio (2005), From Bold Beginnings to an Uncertain Future: The Discipline of History and History Education." However, prior to 1861, what would later be called social studies was in a rather chaotic condition (p. 5). The report of the Madison Conference presented the framework for the modern style history that swept into the curriculum (p. 7). Evans (2004), The Social Studies Wars

4 These were the good old days. Those in charge of these schools had so much confidence and faith in the leadership of the American Historical Association, recalled Rolla M. Tryon in 1935, that they almost ceased merely offering history, but required it instead. Scholars have described a period of cooperation between colleges and schools in curriculum making that began in 1884. For historians, this defeat of General History was evidence of their own breakthrough of influence in high schools. The course, it seemed, was gone with the wind. It was eliminated root and branch, a Midwestern professor commented in 1919, and the space which it once occupied has since been so covered that few, if any, of the later generation of school pupils know of its former existence. - Allardyce (1990), Toward World History: American Historians and the Coming of the World History Course, Journal of World History 1(1)

5 And in fact, Boston adopts a block system 20 years before the Madison Conference

6 Early world history instruction was dominated by textbook recitation To abandon the textbook would be for the mariner on the boundless ocean to throw overboard his compass and chart. Textbooks didnt change; a millenarian narrative structure endured through generations of General History textbooks Millenarian as universalizing teleology Curriculum and instruction was bound by the constraints of the textbook narrative structure, and since textbooks remained constant, curriculum remained bound by stable constraints

7 1821-1835: Whelpleys Compend of History from Earliest Times (and others) 1835-1877: Worcesters Elements of History Ancient and Modern 1877-1890: Swintons Outlines of History Ancient, Medieval and Modern 1890-1923: Sheldon Studies in General History Myers General History


9 -From George Emersons Remembrances of an Old Teacher (p.58) The quotation is from a description of his teaching at the Bostons Girls School, but it represents well the instruction of the era.

10 From Rev. C. Lennys Questions for Examination of Tytlers Elements (p. 1) From Alexander Fraser Tytlers Elements of General History (p.18)

11 Thus did nationalism, millennialism, and evangelicism converge in an ideology of civic piety and pious civility. - From Lawrence Cremins American Education: The National Experience, 1783-1876 (p. 57) The principles of democracy are identical with the principles of Christianity. - From Catherine Beechers Domestic Economy (p.25)

12 All events, past, present and to come, are employed in directing and completing the destines of all creatures, in subservience to that infinitely great and glorious kingdom, which shall never be removed.

13 Boston School Committee: Ancient and Modern History and Chronology English High School: General History 3 years 2 years


15 It is a brief barren abstract of events, put together with no other relation of cause and effect than that which chronology makes inevitable; it states facts without the least regard to their relative importance and gives the same apace and emphasis of comment to a Welch foray, whose consequences died with its slain, as to the act of adding to Magna Charta the clause requiring the assent of Parliament to the imposition of taxation. -From the Report of the Annual Examiner, 1845, Boston School Committee

16 Can the [Mexican] war be justified on moral or religious grounds? But however this question may be answered, it is to be hoped that a beneficent Providence will bring good out of evil, and cause, in the final result, an advancement of human freedom and human happiness, of good government and of true religion. (pp. 327)

17 1860 1 year 1870 3 years (2 hours per week) I- Ancient II- Medieval III- Modern

18 Worcesters ChaptersMadison Conference Blocks Egypt The Phoencians Assyria and Babylon Persia Greece Rome 4 th Year: Greek and Roman History with Oriental Connections The Middle Ages France5 th Year: French history England6 th Year: English history Europe America7 th Year: American History


20 Expanding the definition of Millennialism as a universalizing tendency

21 Sheldons Studies in General History Myers General History

22 Medieval: There is a destiny that shapes our ends, rough-hew them as we will.- Shakespeare Modern : Infinite Providence, thou wilt make the day dawn. - Richter 19 th Century: Ring out a slowly dying cause,/ And ancient forms of party stryfe;/ Ring in the nobler modes of life,/ With sweeter manners, purer laws./ Ring out false pride in place and blood,/ The civic slander and the spite / Ring in the love of truth and right/ Ring in the common love of good./ Ring in the valiant man and free,/ The larger heart, the kindlier hand; / Ring out the darkness of the land,/ Ring in the Christ that is to be. - Tennyson


24 1906 Three points (half-credits) Ancient Medieval Modern 1923 Myers General History removed from approved book list Myers Ancient and Myers Modern remain on the list

25 YearsTextbookCourse StructureImpending Millennia 1821- 1824 Whelpley, Compend and Tytler, Elements of History 3 years of GeneralUniversal Salvation Universal Democracy 1824- 1835 unclear2 years of General 1835- 1860 Worcester, General History 2 years of GeneralUniversal Salvation Universal Democracy 1860- 1870 Worcester, General History 1 year of GeneralUniversal Salvation Universal Democracy 1870- 1877 Worcester, General History 3 years (2 hours/week) of Ancient/Med/Modern Universal Salvation Universal Democracy 1877- 1890 Swinton, Outlines of History 3 years (2 hours/week) of Ancient/Med/Modern Universal Aryan Unification 1890- 1906 Sheldon, General History and Myers, General History 3 years (2 hours/week) of Ancient/Med/Modern Universal World Order 1906- 1923 Myers, General History 3 half-credits of Ancient/Med/Modern Universal World Government 1923-Myers, Ancient and Myers, Modern 3 half-credits of Ancient/Med/Modern Universal World Government

26 For Historians and Historiography History instruction in the 19 th century is not chaotic; its organized by textbooks The Committees of N are not a watershed; they recommend a course of study already supported by textbooks The history of world history instruction and social studies in America go back to the early Republic, and the stamp of Millenarianism remains a key organizational principle in the century that follows, and perhaps into our own time.


28 For Policy-makers Textbooks in the 19 th century exerted powerful constraints on instruction and curriculum and perhaps continue to do so. Reforming curriculum without reforming textbooks may be folly. For Educators and Teacher-Educators Textbooks, which remain remarkably consistent since the 1820s, retain the cultural legacy of civic piety and millenarianism. These ancient biases continue to shape our current instruction, often in ways we dont recognize. Identifying these ancient biases in contemporary texts, can be quite fun, and quite enlightening

29 Many thanks to those who read earlier versions of this presentation: Jill Lepore Julie Reuben Meira Levinson Becca Miller Aradhana Mudumbi Anna Saavedra


31 Volume I: Ancient Mesopotamia Assyria Persia Greece Macedon Rome Europe Crusades Turks Germany France Britain Present Day Europe Asia Africa America Volume II: Modern

32 Egypt The Phoenicians Assyria and Babylon Persia Greece Rome The Middle Ages France England Europe America

33 Ancient Egypt Assyria and Babylon Hebrews Phoenicians Hindoos Persia Greece Rome Medieval History Byzantium Charlemagne Crusades Chivalry Age of Revival Modern History 16 th Century 17 th Century 18 th Century 19 th Century

34 Ancient History Eastern Nations Egypt Babylon Assyria Hebrews Phoenicians Perisa India and China Greece Rome Middle Ages Dark Ages Age of revival Modern Reformation Revolution Democratic Reaction Medieval and Modern History

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