Episode 40: The Social Studies Wars with Ron Evans

In episode 40, Dan and Michael interview Ron Evans of San Diego State University on the history of the social studies.

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Books, articles, lessons, and other amazing resources

  1. Evans, R. W. (2004). The social studies wars: What should we teach the children?. New York, NY: Teachers College Press.
  2. For more on the issues-centered approach in the social studies see: Evans, R. W., & Saxe, D. W. (1996). Handbook on Teaching Social Issues. NCSS Bulletin 93. National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS).
  3. Hertzberg, H. W. (1981). Social Studies Reform 1880-1980. Boulder, CO: SSEC Publications.
  4. The 1892 report Ron mentioned is the National Education Association’s “History Ten” (part of NEA’s “Committee of Ten”) chaired by Charles Kendall Adams which also included Woodrow Wilson, James Harvey Robinson and others. It was published in 1894.
  5. The American Historical Association’s (AHA) Committee of Seven met in 1899 and was similar to the History Ten, but pushed traditional history movement into secondary schools. It was much more highly adopted and recommended “four blocks” of history instruction: ancient, medieval, modern, and American. It sought to train students in the art of thinking historically
  6. In 1916, the NEA’s Committee on the Social Studies (part of NEA’s Commission on the Reorganization of Secondary Education) met and was headed by Sociologist Jesse James; It recommended a compromise between history and issues-centered social studies with the Problems of Democracy Course (POD) best representing the latter.
  7. Evans, R. W. (2007). This happened in America: Harold Rugg and the censure of social studies. Charlotte, NC: Information Age Press.
  8. The Council for Basic Education that Authur Bestor helped to found closed its doors in 2004 due to lack of funding.
  9. Jerome Bruner’s most influential work is his 1960 book, The process of education.
  10. Wikipedia has a short summary of Man: A Course of Study (MACOS), the Education Development Center maintains MACOSonline.org, and there’s even a documentary film about MACOS called “Through These Eyes“.
  11. Oliver, D. W., & Shaver, J. P. (1966). Teaching public issues in the high school. Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin.
  12. Writings helped lead to reform and included Rudolf Flesch’s 1955 book Why Johnny Can’t Read and then eventually accountability-reform with the National Commission on Education’s “A Nationa at Risk” report.
  13. Evans, R. W. (2014). Schooling corporate citizens: How accountability reform has damaged civic education and undermined democracy. New York, NY: Routledge.
  14. See Episode 36 for more on David Berliner’s contention that the American educational crisis is simply a “Manufactured Crisis”
  15. You can learn more about the National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS) for social studies teachers and the university-level social studies organization College and University Faculty Assembly (CUFA).
  16. In addition to Evans work, we recommend LaGarrett King’s article on the historical response from Black social studies scholars to the Whiteness of curricula & texts: King, L. J. (2014). When lions write history: Black history textbooks, African-American educators, & the alternative black curriculum in social studies education, 1890-1940. Multicultural Education, 22(1), 2-11.


Ron Evans is a leading authority on social studies and curriculum history. He is a Professor in the School of Teacher Education at San Diego State University. You can find more info about him and his work on his site RonaldWEvans.wordpress.com, buy his books on his Amazon author page, and you can friend him on Facebook for more updates.

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