Session of the Week: Whither the Future of the History Textbook

annual meeting sessionLast year, when a history textbook for 4th graders in Virginia was found to contain errors and falsehoods, a debate ignited in the history community: what state are history textbooks in? Though all can agree that accuracy is of paramount importance, other questions arose, like how well do textbooks teach history? And what is the future of textbooks in the digital age?

At AHA session 232, Whither the Future of the History Textbook, at the upcoming 126th annual meeting, textbook authors and publishers will come together to discuss the current state of history textbooks, how well they facilitate historical thinking skills, and what the future may have in store. The details of this session follow below:

Whither the Future of the History Textbook
(AHA Session 232)
Date: Sunday, January 8, 2012, 11:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m.
Location: Chicago Ballroom VI (Sheraton Chicago Hotel & Towers)

Chair: Timothy Thurber, Virginia Commonwealth University

Panel:
Sally Constable, Bedford/St. Martin’s
Daniel J. Czitrom, Mount Holyoke College
William Lombardo, Bedford/St. Martin’s
Janice L. Reiff, University of California, Los Angeles
Ann West, Wadsworth/Cengage Learning

Session Abstract: This session will bring together representatives from publishers as well as textbook authors to explore what role the textbook will play in future college courses. Numerous scholars of historical learning have argued that presentation of large bodies of facts risk sacrificing depth for breadth. Similarly, many have called for a model of historical learning that brings to the fore the ways in which history is a question-driven discipline marked by debate and ambiguity. In this view, historical thinking skills, and not simply facts, must be at the core of history courses. Can textbooks facilitate this type of learning? If so, how? Moreover, can textbooks adequately reflect how historical scholarship has expanded over the past two generations to include a much wider and richer array of topics and approaches? Finally, there is the question of technology. Does the textbook have a future in the digital age?

In an effort to highlight the diverse range of scholarship at the upcoming annual meeting, we’re highlighting different sessions here on the blog each week. Check out other sessions we’ve recently profiled, including:

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