The portrayal of Japanese Americans in a textbook series

In this project, the writer has investigated the portrayal of Japanese Americans in the state-adopted social studies textbook series The Social Sciences: Concepts and Values (Harcourt, Brace & World, Inc., 1970), levels one through four. Because textbooks have influence on learners, they are a means of providing the Japanese-American student with the opportunity to develop a sense of personal dignity and an understanding of his society. For the Japanese Americans, the development of identity is a complicated one. In the process of acculturation and assimilation into the American society, the Japanese Americans are losing their identity. The historical background and contemporary conditions of Japanese Americans illustrate the need for the textbooks to assist Japanese Americans in their search for identity. The writer has evaluated the early elementary-level social studies textbooks in terms of six criteria. In general, the findings indicated that an attempt has been made in the Concepts and Values series to portray the Japanese Americans as part of the pluralistic nature of the American society. However, because of the infrequent content material (both pictorial and narrative), omissions of essential information and illustrations, some stereotypic material, and some inaccurate factual statements, the conclusion was reached that the Japanese-American learner will not adequately be assisted by the series of textbooks used in this study to promote his self-identity. Based on the findings of this project, specific recommendations are presented to help educators, concerned citizens, and Japanese Americans.