Project Forever Free asked for my take on Dana Goldstein’s recent textbook package in The New York Times. I see it as reminder of two things: We ask textbooks to do too much and there is no way around the centrality of good teaching:
American history is complicated and our understandings of it evolve with time and through sometimes contentious debate. Today we’re having a lively debate about whether to trace the genuine founding of the nation to 1619 or 1789. Others argue it’s 1776. (I’m partial to 1865). There isn’t a right answer, tastes about what’s “right” will evolve, and people will disagree for at least as long as there is a country to disagree about. Making sense of that is a tall order for any textbook, especially one that’s also supposed to convey history across great swaths of time.
You can read my full commentary here.