Color in the Classroom pbk: How American Schools Taught Race, 1900-1954

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en Limba Engleză Paperback – 02 Oct 2014
Between the turn of the twentieth century and the Brown v. Board of Education decision in 1954, the way that American schools taught about race changed dramatically. This transformation was engineered by the nation's most prominent anthropologists, including Franz Boas, Ruth Benedict, and
Margaret Mead, during World War II. Inspired by scientific racism in Nazi Germany, these activist scholars decided that the best way to fight racial prejudice was to teach what they saw as the truth about race in the institution that had the power to do the most good-American schools.
Anthropologists created lesson plans, lectures, courses, and pamphlets designed to revise what they called the 'race' concept in American education. They believed that if teachers presented race in scientific and egalitarian terms, conveying human diversity as learned habits of culture rather than
innate characteristics, American citizens would become less racist. Although nearly forgotten today, this educational reform movement represents an important component of early civil rights activism that emerged alongside the domestic and global tensions of wartime.

Drawing on hundreds of first-hand accounts written by teachers nationwide, Zo Burkholder traces the influence of this anthropological activism on the way that teachers understood, spoke, and taught about race. She explains how and why teachers readily understood certain theoretical concepts, such
as the division of race into three main categories, while they struggled to make sense of more complex models of cultural diversity and structural inequality. As they translated theories into practice, teachers crafted an educational discourse on race that differed significantly from the definition
of race produced by scientists at mid-century.

Schoolteachers and their approach to race were put into the spotlight with the Brown v. Board of Education case, but the belief that racially integrated schools would eradicate racism in the next generation and eliminate the need for discussion of racial inequality long predated this. Discussions
of race in the classroom were silenced during the early Cold War until a new generation of antiracist, multicultural educators emerged in the 1970s.

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ISBN-13: 9780190209322
ISBN-10: 0190209321
Pagini: 266
Ilustrații: 20 illus.
Dimensiuni: 166 x 234 x 16 mm
Greutate: 0.41 kg
Editura: Oxford University Press
Colecția OUP USA
Locul publicării: New York, United States


What makes this study valuable is its application of that [whiteness studies] literature to the history of progressive education, to the largely neglected history of the intercultural education movement, and, to the extent possible given the sources available, to how evolving academic ideas find their ways into actual public school classrooms. This is a solid intellectual history that should attract readers well beyond historians of education.
[T]he book effectively demarcates different phases in the effort to promote tolerance and combat bigotry.
Places a spotlight on the profound paradigm shift in understanding 'race' that occurred during and after WWII, especially in how race was taught in public schools.
This book is the finest study of intercultural education to date. Burkholder does a masterful job tracing the history of this reform effort, which during the World War II years, sought to teach American students about the evils of racism and the virtue of tolerance. She focuses on three great anthropologists and educational activists, Franz Boas, Ruth Benedict, and Margaret Mead, who successfully challenged ideas of racial superiority and inferiority and vigorouslyargued that respect for diversity was a core democratic value. Engagingly written and wonderfully researched, Color in the Classroom is a must read for anyone interested in how schools have been used to strengthen American democracy.
Anthropology's attempt to disseminate a progressive critique of structural inequalities based on race and class has always been less palatable to the public than the discipline's celebration of multicultural diversity. In this book, Zoe Burkholder tellingly depicts the dilemma activist anthropology has faced in American society. She shows how the celebratory stance has been politically ineffective, since it offers psychological solutions - in the form of advocacy for'colorblind' tolerance -to structural problems.
Color in the Classroom examines American teachers' changing lessons about race during the first half of the twentieth century. Burkholder sheds new light on how anthropologists worked directly with educators during World War II to encourage an anthropological understanding of cultural differences. The mixed results of this effort yield insights for all who face the ongoing challenge of explaining the impact of race in a society where the ideal ofcolorblindness exists alongside continuing racial inequalities.
Elegantly conceptualized and executed.

Notă biografică

Zoë Burkholder is an associate professor of Educational Foundations at Montclair State University.