The Hope for American School Reform: The Cold War Pursuit of Inquiry Learning in Social Studies (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011)

The Hope for American School Reform: The Cold War Pursuit of Inquiry Learning in Social Studies

As the issue of school reform grows ever more intense, it is imperative that we learn what we can from previous efforts. The new social studies was a 1960s attempt to transform the teaching of history and the social sciences in schools. With origins in the Cold War, the movement sought to develop critical thinkers through “inquiry” and “discovery.” Though it led to a veritable treasure trove of innovative materials, the “revolution” envisioned by its proponents never materialized. Engagingly written and drawing on previously untapped archival sources, The Hope for American School Reform offers an insightful perspective on current trends.

***Recipient of the 2011 Exemplary Research Award from the National Council for the Social Studies***

“Ron Evans has crafted what will surely become the seminal answers to the questions ‘Where did the new social studies come from and why should we care?’ In this important, carefully researched, and well-written book, Evans situates the 40 federally funded curriculum projects that together came to be known as the ‘new social studies’ in historical context, drawing attention to their conservative origins, the many ways in which they were pedagogically progressive, and the reasons why they did not have the long-term impact so many educators hoped for and expected. This well-researched and lively book is important for all social studies educators who seek to learn from the past in order to create a better social studies future.” —Diana Hess, Professor, University of Wisconsin-Madison

“Ron Evans’ latest book, like his earlier works, provides a meticulously researched history of social studies reform written in a style that is accessible to both scholars and lay readers. His narrative of the origins and reforms called for in the New Social Studies along with the concluding comparison to today’s attempted educational reform movement, provide a cautionary tale about the motivations of politicians, reformers, and other political stakeholders as they attempt to change the direction of America’s social studies/history program.”
— Barbara Slater Stern, Professor, James Madison University

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