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Publishers rush 9/11 into textbook

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Publishers rush 9/11 into textbooks

S. Mitra Kalita http://www.indian-express.com/full_story.php?content_id=31485

According to some textbooks distributed recently, the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, are history — and that does not sit well with some historians, who say it's too soon. For the first time since hijackers flew planes into the WTC and the Pentagon, many students can read about it in new textbooks that include special sections. Some schools revamped syllabi to include the new texts; others received updated editions when they placed orders for the school year.

But some historians say two years after the event is too early to place it in a historical context and some teachers are concerned that the language used to describe the aftermath of 9/11 is suffused with more patriotism than fact. ‘‘I was stunned that publishers are rushing to include this coverage,'' said Jerold Starr, director of Center for Social Studies Education. ‘‘It took them many years to include Vietnam.'' A study in 1983, he said, concluded that the average US history textbook devoted six paragraphs to the Vietnam War a decade after it ended.

Publishers say students learn better if they can relate recent events to historic ones. In early September 2001, editors at McDougal Littell, a division of Houghton Mifflin, were about to send their line of history and government textbooks to press. Then the terrorists struck. ‘‘It was one of those ‘stop the presses'-type moments,'' said Collin Earnst, a spokesman for Houghton Mifflin. Their solution was to insert a 14-page supplement into many of its textbooks, of which one popular high school title is ‘‘The Americans.'' The latest edition includes a chapter titled ‘‘History in the Making: The War on Terrorism.'' Editors decided to focus on the ‘‘heroism of this time period.''

Dan Kent, a high school teacher in a Washington suburb, said he relies on more than a textbook.(LAT-WP)

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