History Advocates

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Teacher’s Curriculum Institute’s “History Alive!”

In its most recent Adoption Report (http://www.cde.ca.gov/ci/hs/im/documents/historyadoptrpt05f.pdf)  the state of California adopted several different textbooks in the category of history/social sciences.  Each school district selects one of these state-approved textbooks, all of which are required to adhere to the state’s various educational standards.  One such textbook is “History Alive!” published by the Teachers Curriculum Institute (TCI).

By and large, TCI’s “History Alive!” offers an engaging experience for teaching and learning ancient history in sixth grade.  This is due to the adoption of a multicultural viewpoint that attempts to divest itself from the limitations of traditional Eurocentric presentations of world history.  The notable exception to this, however, is the treatment of the Persian civilization. In its 2004 edition, which is currently in wide circulation, TCI's superficial presentation of the Achaemenid empire (c. 550 - c. 330 B. C. E.) not only resorts to traditional stereotypes, it presents uncritically and without commentary a vividly imagined and completely fictitious letter by Greek warriors vilifying and demonizing the Persians.


Though suffering from a similarly one-sided view of history, the 2011 edition of TCI's "History Alive!" shows notable improvements in its treatment of the Persians and their conflict with the Greeks, having removed the offensive language referred to above. It is an unfortunate fact, however, that the 2004 edition remains in wide circulation in California and many other states.  

Attempts to engage TCI in a dialogue have begun to bear fruit with the expression of interest and openness on the part of TCI's president to reevaluate the content of "History Alive!" In the interim, TCI's stated plan is to provide supplemental material and to take other corrective steps over time. However, since TCI develops its educational material within the confines of "the Standards" it will require revisions to the Standards before TCI and other publishers properly and adequately address the Persian civilization in their history textbooks

Glencoe World History, McGraw Hill


Another state-adopted textbook that is in wide circulation in California middle schools is Glencoe Ancient Civilizations by McGraw Hill. While this textbook provides more context for the origins of the Persian Empire and civilization, including the characteristics of the Persian system of governance and the Persian religion, it does so in a brief subsection (titled "Persia Attacks the Greeks") under a chapter devoted to the Ancient Greeks. Glenco Ancient Civilizations therefore treats the Persian civilization, one of the most influential of the ancient world, as not much more than a means to expound on and glorify the history of the ancient Greeks.