The following extracts from the "Report of the American Historical Association, by the Committee of Eight" clearly indicate the principal ideas of the Committee’s report and form the basis of the sixth-grade work provided by this book.

"The history-teaching in the elementary schools should be focused upon American History. But we do not mean to imply that American History signifies an account only of those events which have occurred in America. Our aim is to explain the America of to-day; its civilization, its institutions, and its traditions. America cannot be understood without taking into account the history of its peoples before they crossed the Atlantic.

In the list of topics submitted for the sixth grade, those features of ancient and of medieval life have been illustrated which explain other important elements of our civilization or which show how the movement for discovery and coloni- zation originated. A few great incidents and typical char- acters of the ancient and the medieval world have been added because their stories are a part of the universal heritage of mankind. In medieval history special emphasis is laid upon England. It is not at all the intention to teach Greek, Roman, or medieval history, though some of the topics are selected from these fields.

"In outlining the work suitable for this grade, we were governed by the following considerations: first, the desire to. emphasize geographical facts, not only those which form a part of the history of the discoveries of the fifteenth and the sixteenth centuries, but also the simpler incidents of previous geographical discovery; second, the effort to put the facts connected with the emigration to America in their relation to earlier movements of peoples; third, the aim to show, in a very simple way, the civilizations which were the heritage of those who came to America,—that is, to explain what America started with; fourth, to associate the three or four peoples of Europe that were to have a share in American colonization, with enough of the characteristic incidents of their history to give the child some feeling for the names ‘England,’ ‘Spain,’ ‘Holland,’ and ‘France.’

"If the unity of the general theme, particularly in the sixth grade, can be realized by some other treatment in individual instances, by omission or by more detailed work, this will not interfere with the aim of the plan."


© 2000 by Lynn Waterman