History Repeating Itself: The Republication of Children’s by Gregory M. Pfitzer

By Gregory M. Pfitzer

Lately publishers at the Christian correct were reprinting nineteenth-century children’s heritage books and advertising them to folks as “anchor texts” for homeschool guide. Why, Gregory M. Pfitzer asks, could books written greater than a hundred and fifty years in the past be presumed appropriate for instructing twenty-first-century kids? the reply, he proposes, is that promoters of those recycled works think that heritage as a self-discipline took a improper flip within the early 20th century, while innovative educators brought social experiences methodologies into public tuition historical past school rooms, foisting upon unsuspecting and susceptible young children ideologically distorted background books.

In historical past Repeating Itself, Pfitzer checks those assertions via scrutinizing and contextualizing the unique nineteenth-century texts on which those republications are established. He specializes in how the writers borrowed from each other to provide works that have been comparable in lots of methods but differed markedly by way of pedagogical approach and philosophy of historical past. Pfitzer demonstrates that faraway from being non-ideological, those works have been rooted in extreme modern debates over altering conceptions of youth.

Pfitzer argues that the repurposing of antiquated texts finds a lost resistance to the belief of a contested prior. He additionally increases crucial philosophical questions about how and why curricular judgements are formed through the “past we elect to recollect” on behalf of our youngsters.

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Additional info for History Repeating Itself: The Republication of Children’s Historical Literature and the Christian Right

Sample text

Obscurity was what he deserved and desired. “You need not whisper it to the public, at least until I am gone,” he confided, “but I know, better than any one can tell me, that there is nothing in this long catalogue [of publications] that will give me a permanent place in literature. ”9 The gloomy substance and tone of these late-in-life reflections by Goodrich beg answers to obvious questions: Why did he feel so worthless given that he had achieved national and international recognition as a writer of children’s books and significant literary success in his day?

51 Charles Dickens was even more waggish in his commentaries on the suitability of traditional fairy tales Narrative History 29 for children. 53 This controversy paralleled later debates over whether fanciful and mythological writing should appear in history books for the very young as a way of easing children into the study of the past. 55 Puck’s appearance as the narrator in Cady’s history introduced a spirited, playful element into the storyline of history and drew young readers more irresistibly to the past.

34 In one such representative nineteenth-century work, for instance, the hero checks out Charles Rollins’s Universal History from the library in an effort to learn history’s valuable lessons while simultaneously avoiding the dangerous distractions of those cheap books of fiction that interest his friends. ”35 With these changing cultural conditions as inducements, some forwardlooking publishers imagined a market for children’s history that reached beyond the compass of moral guidebooks. As attitudes toward childhood and play altered in favor of leisure activity, so did the motivations for writing history books expressly for children interested in pleasure reading.

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