NYU Steinhardt News

Teach High School History from Multiple Points of View, Says Zimmerman

Writing in the Los Angeles Times, Jonathan Zimmerman, professor of history and education at NYU, examines the recent news that the Texas Board of Education voted to approve a new set of standards for history textbooks that casts U.S. history in a more conservative light.

From questioning the separation of church and state to defending the superiority of American capitalism, the new standards are a reaction to what the Texas Board found was a liberal slant to most history books used in schools.

While Zimmerman agrees that most textbooks do present a liberal telling of American history, by focusing on protest movements for equality and the role of the goverment to advance social justice, he argues that the new Texas standards will simply bias history texts towards conservatism.

His solution: present kids with multiple points of view of history and let them decide for themselves.

He writes, "Instead of bickering about the 'correct' version of the past, the Texas school board should decree that every high school history class use both [liberal and conservative] texts. That would teach students that Americans disagree -- vehemently -- about the making and the meaning of their nation. And it would require the kids to sort out the differences on their own."