1st Edition

The Patchwork of World History in Texas High Schools Unpacking Eurocentrism, Imperialism, and Nationalism in the Curriculum, 1920-2021

By Stephen Jackson Copyright 2023
    220 Pages 3 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This book traces the historical development of the World History course as it has been taught in high school classrooms in Texas, a populous and nationally influential state, over the last hundred years.

    Arguing that the course is a result of a patchwork of competing groups and ideas that have intersected over the past century, with each new framework patched over but never completely erased or replaced, the author crucially examines themes of imperialism, Eurocentrism, and nationalism in both textbooks and the curriculum more broadly. The first part of the book presents an overview of the World History course supported by numerical analysis of textbook content and public documents, while the second focuses on the depiction of non-Western peoples, and persistent narratives of Eurocentrism and nationalism. It ultimately offers that a more global, accurate, and balanced curriculum is possible, despite the tension between the ideas of professional world historians, who often de-center the nation-state in their quest for a truly global approach to the subject, and the historical core rationale of state-sponsored education in the United States: to produce loyal citizens.

    Offering a new, conceptual understanding of how colonial themes in World History curriculum have been dealt with in the past and are now engaged with in contemporary times, it provides essential context for scholars and educators with interests in the history of education, curriculum studies, and the teaching of World History in the United States.

    1. Introduction: A Course Burdened by the Weight of the World 2. History’s Orphan, 1920s-1970s 3. Standardizing the World, 1980-Present 4. Modernizing Heroes and Traditional Villains: Eurocentrism in Action 5. The Wake-up Call of Empire 6. Modern Problems Conclusion: Whither High School World History in Texas? Appendices


    Stephen Jackson is Associate Professor of History at the University of Sioux Falls, South Dakota, USA.

    "Stephen Jackson has produced our first comprehensive account of World History as it was actually presented to American students across the past century. He documents important changes but also troubling continuities, especially in the ways the course privileged the United States and Europe over the rest of the globe. Anyone who wants to understand how Americans imagined the world--and what that means for our own history--should read this smart and careful book."

    -Jonathan Zimmerman, University of Pennsylvania, author of Whose America? Culture Wars in the Public Schools.

    "This highly original book traces the evolution of world history teaching in the Texas schools over the last century. It shows how major features of the subject were redefined over time, but also -- unfortunately -- the characteristic limitations placed on the field thanks to a variety of political and cultural pressures. An important addition to the practical history of education in the discipline, and a good chance for world history teachers to consider their basic goals."

    -Peter N. Stearns, George Mason University

    "Jackson reveals dilemmas long underlying high school world history. The post-1920 details of Texas World History curricula show the evolving "patchwork" of approaches adopted by state officials and authors. From 1984, state adoption of texts enabled conservative legislators to reaffirm civics as capitalistic nationalism and Eurocentrism. As texts expanded, historians gained influence over nuances in terminology, but the courses did not gain in coherence. Jackson’s methodology was solid, revealing a hard reality that the moral instructions of the course, as enunciated by social leaders, have been systematically prioritized over historical knowledge and methods."

    -Patrick Manning, Andrew Mellon Professor of World History, Emeritus at the University of Pittsburgh and Past President, American Historical Association

    "Stephen Jackson’s singular book is an important contribution to the literature on teaching world history. This is high quality, well-sourced, innovative work, clearly framed, offering penetrating insights. Until now we have not had a useful account of the evolution of world history courses. Jackson provides a fresh perspective and fills a significant gap – essential reading for teachers, scholars, policy makers and anyone considering revisions to the curriculum."

    -Ronald Evans, Professor, San Diego State University, author of The Social Studies Wars

    "The first of its kind to explore the high school world history course, this book provides a fascinating analysis of 100-years of textbooks, standards, and curricula. Jackson grounds the Texas case in the larger context of the scholarly field, making the book an essential read for historians and world history educators alike."

    -Lauren McArthur Harris, Arizona State University

    "Stephen Jackson has written an incredibly important book that is a must-read for anyone interested in history education. The first book-length treatment of the history of how World History has been taught in the United States, The Evolving Patchwork of World History in Texas High Schools offers insight into how we inherited a chaotic World History curriculum. From progressive origins, to conservative challenges, with several revisions along the way that address issues such as Eurocentrism and imperialism, World History remains a course that almost everyone agrees should be taught in the nation’s public schools, but hardly anyone agrees on how it should be taught. Perhaps Jackson’s book will signal the beginning of a new era, in which a consensus is reached as we strive for a coherent and meaningful World History curriculum that will benefit all American schoolchildren."

    -Andrew Hartman is a professor of history at Illinois State University and author of A War for the Soul of America: A History of the Culture Wars.

    "Jackson shows a phenomenal understanding of the development and implementation of World History courses in American schools since the early 20th century. He wrestles with the major debates connected with this field and gives a rarely seen, yet important, analysis of the historiography of World History courses. This book is a must read for any current or future history teacher."

    -Kyle Ward, Minnesota State University, Mankato, author of History in the Making.

    "A rich and nuanced account of how the world and its histories have been presented in Texas’s high schools over the last century. It is just such grounded work that we need if we—as scholar-teacher-activists—are going to move from pronouncing to effective advocacy for an honest, responsible, and useable world history curriculum in US secondary education. Kudos and gratitude to Stephen Jackson!"

    -Dan Segal, Pitzer College

    "Jackson brings insight and clarity to the fraught process of creating world history guidelines. His century-long view places contemporary controversies in a less-heated and more-hopeful perspective. Indispensable for all who care deeply about the power of world history."

    -David C. Fisher, University of Texas Rio Grande Valley

    "Teachers and curriculum writers of world history would do well to read and reflect on Jackson’s The Patchwork of World History in Texas High Schools […]. [It] show[s] that world history has experienced persistent educational tensions, so that state officials, curriculum writers, teachers, and students have encountered difficulties at many levels."

    -Patrick Manning, past president of the American Historical Association

    The Patchwork of World  History  in  Texas  High  Schools  is  a  master  class  in historically contextualizing education policy in the State of Texas and the field of World History. Historians and K12 educators seeking to bridge the gap between secondary and postsecondary education have much to gain from Jackson’s perspective, which reframes secondary  schools  as  important  agents,  rather  than  passive  actors  in  the  curricula debate.  History  students,  especially  those  hoping  to  teach,  will  gain  critical  insight  into the politically driven system that they must navigate for themselves and their students. Finally,  Jackson’s  work  is  a  first  in  what  can  and  should  be  a  larger,  vibrant,  and inclusive discussion of World History texts, curricula, and pedagogy.” - Nicole Donawho, World History Connected