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Color in the Classroom: How American Schools Taught Race, 1900-1954 Hardcover – October 5, 2011

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Color in the Classroom: How American Schools Taught Race, 1900-1954 + Pillars of the Republic: Common Schools and American Society, 1780-1860 (American Century) + The One Best System: A History of American Urban Education
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 264 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press (October 5, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199751722
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199751723
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.5 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #310,804 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"What makes this study valuable is its application of that [whiteness studies] literature to the history of progressive education, to the largely neglected history of the intercultural education movement, and, to the extent possible given the sources available, to how evolving academic ideas find their ways into actual public school classrooms. This is a solid intellectual history that should attract readers well beyond historians of education." --American Historical Review

"[T]he book effectively demarcates different phases in the effort to promote tolerance and combat bigotry." --The Journal of American History

"Places a spotlight on the profound paradigm shift in understanding 'race' that occurred during and after WWII, especially in how race was taught in public schools."--CHOICE

"This book is the finest study of intercultural education to date. Burkholder does a masterful job tracing the history of this reform effort, which during the World War II years, sought to teach American students about the evils of racism and the virtue of tolerance. She focuses on three great anthropologists and educational activists, Franz Boas, Ruth Benedict, and Margaret Mead, who successfully challenged ideas of racial superiority and inferiority and vigorously argued that respect for diversity was a core democratic value. Engagingly written and wonderfully researched, Color in the Classroom is a must read for anyone interested in how schools have been used to strengthen American democracy."-Jeffrey Mirel, author of Patriotic Pluralism: Americanization Education and European Immigrants

"Anthropology's attempt to disseminate a progressive critique of structural inequalities based on race and class has always been less palatable to the public than the discipline's celebration of multicultural diversity. In this book, Zoe Burkholder tellingly depicts the dilemma activist anthropology has faced in American society. She shows how the celebratory stance has been politically ineffective, since it offers psychological solutions--in the form of advocacy for 'colorblind' tolerance--to structural problems."-Richard Handler, University of Virginia

"Color in the Classroom examines American teachers' changing lessons about race during the first half of the twentieth century. Burkholder sheds new light on how anthropologists worked directly with educators during World War II to encourage an anthropological understanding of cultural differences. The mixed results of this effort yield insights for all who face the ongoing challenge of explaining the impact of race in a society where the ideal of colorblindness exists alongside continuing racial inequalities."-Jennifer Ritterhouse, author of Growing Up Jim Crow: How Black and White Southern Children Learned Race

"Elegantly conceptualized and executed."Jim Cullen, History News Network

About the Author

Zoë Burkholder is an assistant professor of Educational Foundations at Montclair State University.

More About the Author

Zoe Burkholder is an historian of education and an Assistant Professor of Educational Foundations at Montclair State University. She completed her Ph.D. in the History of Education at New York University; her M.A. in Anthropology at the University of California, Berkeley; and her B.A. in Anthropology at the University of Virginia, Charlottesville. From 2008-2009 she was a fellow at the Charles Warren Center for Studies in American History at Harvard University.

Her scholarly articles and commentaries can be found in popular and academic journals including Harvard Educational Review, Journal of Social History, History of Education Quarterly, Teachers College Record, Education Week, and Teaching Tolerance.

She may be contacted at

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
This is a wonderful book that shows the background for where many of this countries views on race come form. A must read for anyone working in education reform.
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