Fear and Schooling: Understanding the Troubled History of Progressive Education (London: Routledge, 2020)

Fear&SchoolingBy exploring the tensions, impacts, and origins of major controversies relating to schooling and curricula since the early twentieth century, this insightful text illustrates how fear has played a key role in steering the development of progressive education in the United States.

Through rigorous historical investigation, Evans demonstrates how numerous public disputes over specific curricular content have been driven by broader societal hopes and fears. Illustrating how the population’s concerns have been historically projected onto American schooling, the text posits educational debate and controversy as a means by which we struggle over changing anxieties and competing visions of the future, and in doing so, limit influence of key progressive initiatives. Episodes examined include the Rugg textbook controversy, the 1950s “crisis” overs progressive education, the MACOS dispute, conservative restoration, culture war battles, and corporate school reform. In examining specific periods of intense controversy, and drawing on previously untapped archival sources, the author identifies patterns and discontinuities and explains the origins, development, and results of each case. Ultimately, this volume powerfully reveals the danger that fear-based controversies pose to hopes for democratic education.

This informative and insightful text will be of interest to graduate and postgraduate students, researchers, and academics in the fields of educational reform, history of education, curriculum studies and sociology of education.

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 StudiesAs 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