Search JTA's historical archive dating back to 1923

Educators to Conduct Survey on Bias in History Textbooks

July 1, 1955
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Educators in more than 50 countries outside the Iron Curtain have been enlisted in an international survey of history textbooks, the first of its kind ever undertaken, it was announced yesterday by Dr. Howard E. Wilson, secretary of the Educational Policies Commission of the National Education Association. The survey is sponsored by the World Brotherhood organization which was formed in 1950 to lessen frictions created by national, religious and cultural differences.

“This study seeks to determine how well history textbooks, used in the elementary and secondary schools, are fostering wholesome inter group relations,” Dr. Wilson declared. “It is designed with the aim of ultimately improving the history textbooks used in the classrooms around the world. In scrutinizing and evaluating the content of their textbooks, the participants in the survey are asked to pay particular attention to such matters as the presentation and treatment of different religious, cultural, ethnic, and socio-economic groups in their countries,” Dr. Wilson said.

A similar study of school textbooks used in American schools was completed in 1949 by the American Council on Education under Dr. Wilson’s direction. His report was based on an examination of 267 school texts, 49 college manuals and 100 of the most widely read children’s library books. The findings of the American survey showed that: 1. Our textbooks fail to cope adequately with problems of group understanding; 2. That this failure has built up a distorted conception of the democratic way of life; 3. That much material essential to understanding of minority problems is not presented to young pupils; and 4. That too many of our textbooks are biased in their treatment of minorities.

The American survey resulted in setting up new guide posts for writing better textbooks used in this country.

Recommended from JTA