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Editorial Reviews. From Library Journal. Zimmerman, director of the History of Education Culture Wars in the Public Schools: Read 3 Kindle Store Reviews.
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As Zimmerman reveals, multiculturalism began long ago. Starting in the s, various immigrant groups--the Irish, the Germans, the Italians, even the newly arrived Eastern European Jews--urged school systems and textbook publishers to include their stories in the teaching of American history. The civil rights movement of the s and '70s brought similar criticism of the white version of American history, and in the end, textbooks and curricula have offered a more inclusive account of American progress in freedom and justice.

But moral and religious education, Zimmerman argues, will remain on much thornier ground. In battles over school prayer or sex education, each side argues from such deeply held beliefs that they rarely understand one another's reasoning, let alone find a middle ground for compromise. Here there have been no resolutions to calm the teaching of history.

Jonathan Zimmerman, Whose America? Culture Wars in the Public Schools

All the same, Zimmerman argues, the strong American tradition of pluralism has softened the edges of the most rigorous moral and religious absolutism. Get A Copy.

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CBN News Sunday: The Culture War in America’s Education System

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Mar 13, Gillian Mertens rated it really liked it. A fascinating analysis of 20th century controversies regarding social studies and religious education in American public schools.


  1. Whose America? : culture wars in the public schools.
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An absolute most-read for History educators, school administrators, or anyone interested in uncovering the nuances of how history textbooks manifested and reinforced the "American narrative" of equality, prosperity, and exceptionalism and the investment of various pluralistic groups in shaping their depiction in American history classrooms. Additionally, this book c A fascinating analysis of 20th century controversies regarding social studies and religious education in American public schools. Additionally, this book contains a fascinating overview of religious education in America. Zimmerman's assessment of religious education begins in the s, and provides copious examples to reinforce the varied positions, attitudes, allowances, and soapboxes of American denominalationists fighting for religious representation or secularism in public schooling.

Whose America? : culture wars in the public schools (Book, ) [guisernohow.cf]

I wish this book had explicitly connected various movements to larger American and global perspectives happening at the time; although Zimmerman draws a lot of attention to specific examples and chains of events, contextualizing participants and groups within a larger context of sociopolitical and economic realities may have led to a richer reading. However, this book is still remarkable without the added context; those who have a broad understanding of American culture during the 20th century can still enjoy and learn from this book.

All in all: this history is provocative, informative, and compelling, and belongs alongside Howard Zinn's "A People's History" on any critical History educator's bookshelf.


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  • New push for public school Bible studies classes is an excuse to spread Christian gospel;
  • Nov 27, Julia rated it liked it Shelves: non-fiction. Very informative, although quite boring at times Apr 04, Adam rated it liked it. Alex Peck rated it liked it Nov 08, Arlene rated it liked it Mar 04, Kay Strain rated it liked it Mar 22, Justin P Jacobs rated it liked it Jun 07, Derek Berg rated it liked it Apr 13, Kyra rated it really liked it May 27, Christina Cosio-futch rated it it was amazing Apr 14, Mary rated it really liked it Aug 14, Cassie rated it liked it Jun 20, The case-study approach is a good way to demonstrate a consistency in conservative activism that transcended the half-century between Scopes and Kanawha.

    Laats is correct that we can isolate an educational conservatism that spans the twentieth century—one that rejects child-centered, relativistic curricular approaches. His book spans all of American history, and includes chapters, for example, on the nineteenth century battles over Catholicism and Mormonism. The chapter that I read is about the culture wars of the s and s. Prothero challenges the simplistic view that the culture wars were not real or were a distraction from more important issues.

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    In California, where a volatile political culture nurtured both Orange County mega-churches and Berkeley coffeehouses, these changes reverberated especially powerfully. Many came to link such progressive educational programs not only with threats to the family and nation but also with rising taxes, which they feared were being squandered on morally lax educators teaching ethically questionable curricula.

    As Jonathan Zimmerman shows, the controversial subject began in the West and spread steadily around the world over the past century. As people crossed borders, however, they joined hands to block sex education from most of their classrooms. Examining key players who supported and opposed the sex education movement, Zimmerman takes a close look at one of the most debated and divisive hallmarks of modern schooling.

    I assume hope? But one observation that will strike many is that there is so much educational history here. More broadly, I think educational history needs to be placed at the center of American historiography. There was a time when our most venerable historians agreed, Richard Hofstadter, for instance. When he first delved into educational history, he wrote Merle Curti that he was struck by how much there was to be learned about intellectual life in America by studying its schools.

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