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Survey of School Texts Reveals Perpetuation of Group Tensions; Curriculum Changes Urged

January 22, 1947
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Hundreds of textbooks used in the nation’s schools and colleges contain offensive references which tend to perpetuate and extend group tensions, it was reported here last night by the American Council on Education, following a two-year study conducted under the auspices of the National Conference of Christians and Jews on a grant from Milton Biow and Associates.

The Council’s report found that “textbooks are not guilty of planned derogation of groups,” but fail to “come to grips” with basic issues in human relations. The greatest weaknesses in the texts, the report said, were commission of pertinent material, over-simplification and unwarranted generalizations. Specific weaknesses uncovered in school and library books for young people included:

Three-quarters of the space devoted to Jews in history books deal with events prior to the first century, A.D. ; beside a number of inaccuracies and generalizations concerning the Jews, there is “little to offset the stereotypes of Jews which would abound in contemporary social thinking;” immigrants are referred to in patronizing terms and their arrival in this country during recent immigration waves are described as the movements of “hordes” and “swarms;” other offensive generalities dealt with the Negroes and the Mexican and Asiatic minorities in this country.

The report urged alteration of teaching material, including revamping of curricula before textbooks can be changed and contained no specific indictments of either teachers, authors or publishers. The two-year study included analysis of 267 school texts on United States and world history, human geography, modern problems, literature and biology; twenty-one college texts in psychology and sociology, twenty-five college orientation manuals, 100 children’s library books and courses of study from sixty widely distributed school systems. In addition, questionnaires were filled out by 300 teachers, and consultations were held with minority groups, psychologists, sociologists and educational leaders.

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