The Study of Man: Good Stocks and Lesser Breeds
It is scarcely in the nature of an exposé to point out that American legislation on immigration in the past quarter-century, up to and including the recent displaced-persons act, has pandered to the myth of “Nordic superiority.” The wellsprings of mind and spirit which feed this myth we know to be as deep as they are dubious—economic competition, social exclusiveness, anti-Semitism, suspicion of the stranger, brute selfishness—and it is difficult to measure accurately the role of any single factor in fixing the myth in the public and legislative mind. Yet complex events may be the result of the coming together of simple forces. A textbook, for instance, of the kind used in an elementary or high school—what could be more simple?
Textbooks have recently been attracting a remarkable share of national and international attention. At the Unesco General Conference in Paris in 1946, a program was adopted for the improvement of textbooks as aids in overcoming international misunderstanding. Last year, the United States National Commission for Unesco sponsored a study by I. James Quillen which reviewed the history of textbook analysis and its influence on the evolution of the curriculum in American schools, and which set forth a plan for an international revision of textbooks. On March 15, the American Council on Education published Intergroup Relations in Teaching Materials, a report of a special committee under the chairmanship of Dr. Howard E. Wilson, which scrutinized 266 textbooks used in American schools (but, alas, refrained from mentioning titles and authors), in addition to other teaching materials, for their attitudes toward minority groups.
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