Constructivism and the New Social Studies: A Collection of Classic Inquiry Lessons (Charlotte, NC: Information Age, 2018)

Geoffrey Scheurman and Ronald Evans, Editors

Scheurman_Cover04

The New Social Studies refers to a flurry of academic and commercial activity during the 1960s and 1970s that resulted in the mass development and dissemination of revolutionary classroom materials and teacher resources. In science as well as social studies, a spirit of “inquiry-based teaching” filled the air during this time, resulting in the development of curricula that were both pedagogically innovative and intellectually rigorous. Constructivism and the New Social Studies contains a collection of classic lessons from some of the most successful projects of the era, providing a resource of exceptional ideas and materials that have stood the test of time.

These revealing artifacts are presented with commentaries from some of the original directors of major projects, including Edwin Fenton, Barry Beyer, and Suzanne Helburn. In addition to American and World History, groundbreaking lessons are represented in Economics, Government, Sociology, and Geography, including the Public Issues Series (Fred Newmann), The Amherst History Project (Richard Brown and Geoffrey Scheurman) and Teaching American History: The Quest for Relevancy (Allan Kownslar, Gerald Ponder, and Geneva Gay), and Man: A Course of Study (Peter Dow). With a Foreword by Jerome Bruner, the volume not only provides a resource of exceptional curriculum ideas and actual materials, it also builds a lucid bridge between the theoretical ideas of constructivism and the pedagogical principles of inquiry learning.

Advertisements

The Tragedy of American School Reform: How Curriculum Politics and Entrenched Dilemmas Have Diverted Us From Democracy (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011)

The Tragedy of American School Reform: How Curriculum Politics and Entrenched Dilemmas Have Diverted Us From Democracy (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011)Two persistent dilemmas haunt school reform: curriculum politics and classroom constancy. Both undermined the 1960s’ new social studies, a dynamic reform movement centered on inquiry, issues, and social activism. Dramatic academic freedom controversies ended reform and led to a conservative restoration. On one side were teachers and curriculum developers; on the other, conservative activists determined to undo the revolutions of the 1960s. The episode brought a return to traditional history, a turn away from questioning, and the re-imposition of authority. Engagingly written and thoroughly researched, The Tragedy of American School Reform offers a provocative perspective on schooling.

“A good, richly documented history of the turbulent period of school reform, with particular emphasis upon the social sciences, and the frequently vengeful conservative reaction with which we are living up to the present day. I have lived through much of the period that Evans documents so skillfully and can personally attest to both the optimistic and frequently calamitous story he has given us.”—Jonathan Kozol, award-winning author of Death at an Early Age and Amazing Grace

“Through a meticulous examination of the social studies curriculum, [Evans] makes clear why current reforms are not likely to succeed, in light of ‘curriculum politics’ and the largely uncritical ‘constancy’ of our teaching methods and content. An important contribution to the current debate.”
—Eugene F. Provenzo, Jr., University of Miami

“Evans’ extensive knowledge of education history helps the reader understand that, for the past century, the American classroom has been a battleground for the ideological direction of our nation. He tells the story of education reform as though he was tracking the movements of a winding river and makes the reader aware of the various liberal and conservative tributaries, cross currents, eddies, rip-tides, and white water that have an unavoidable effect on any vessel navigating in the stream. He also makes it clear that, for now and for the foreseeable future, liberal and conservative ideologues will continue to battle for control of the boat’s helm.”—Trey Kay, producer of the award-winning radio documentary The Great Textbook War

“An excellent and well-researched contribution by one of our finest historians of American social studies education—of American education period. Ron Evans’ insights into the powerful and constraining political and social forces that inhibit meaningful and democratic school reform should be read by everyone interested in social studies and in the present state of schooling. In today’s increasingly restrictive climate of standards-based reform and high-stakes testing, no book could be more timely or more relevant.”—Kevin D. Vinson, Senior Lecturer, University of the West Indies