Wanting to Be Standardized: State Standards, Standardized Tests, and the Teaching of Buddhism

Friday, January 7, 2011: 3:30 PM
Room 103 (Hynes Convention Center)
Thomas W. Barker , University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS
This paper looks at how state standards in the secondary word history class, where instruction on Buddhism is generally located, has changed and developed, and how mandatory-state test since No Child Left Behind has been enacted deal with classroom instruction focusing on Buddhism. There are several studies that have noted a decrease in instructional time and state emphasis on policies and standards in regards to social studies education.  However, in evaluating each state’s benchmarks/indicators in world history that have been revised since 2006 to their previous standards there is a dramatic increase in the number of standards and more of a multi-regional approach to how the secondary world history curriculum has been revised. Correlating to this increase is the adoption or continuation of defining the importance of social studies under a global citizenship paradigm.  However, despite the adoption of global citizenship there is a lack of standards and test questions focusing on the historical importance of Buddhism, while at the same time there is a dramatic increase in standards and test questions focusing on Christianity.  My argument is that the lack of focus on Buddhism by education policy makers is because there is an uncertainty of the role of world history in the social studies curriculum and the continuation of a Western dominated narrative because of the association of citizenship and need to understand present conditions within social studies education.
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