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Journal Article

"Critical Lessons" from Our Past: Curricula of Socialist Sunday Schools in the United States

Kenneth Teitelbaum
Curriculum Inquiry
Vol. 20, No. 4 (Winter, 1990), pp. 407-436
Published by: Taylor & Francis, Ltd.
DOI: 10.2307/1179877
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1179877
Page Count: 30
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"Critical Lessons" from Our Past: Curricula of Socialist Sunday Schools in the United States
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Abstract

Much of the recent scholarship on school text materials has emphasized their bland and homogenizing character and their tendency to reproduce dominant ideologies. However, our past also includes examples of texts being used in schools to transmit views that directly challenged dominant ideologies. Such was the case for a collection of texts adopted by American socialist educators during the first two decades of this century for use in children's Sunday schools. This article discusses a sample of the socialists' curriculum materials. These alternative texts were of three kinds: mainstream writings not originally intended for use by the radical movement; radical writings not originally intended for use by the children's schools; and writings by socialist youth activists specifically intended for use in the Sunday schools. The article also explicates the primary themes that were stressed by the educators who used these texts, such as class consciousness, social interdependence, and the benefits of cooperative social and industrial relations. Finally, the significant "lessons" that these texts may still hold for critical educators today are briefly discussed. The article is directed at the need for those interested in critical pedagogies to provide concrete alternatives from our past and present for classroom teachers to reflect upon and debate.

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