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Grassroots Dedication and Opportunism: The Pre-university Anthropology Education Movement in the United States

Colleen Popson and Guven Witteveen

Keywords: AMERICAN ANTHROPOLOGICAL ASSOCIATION; ANTHROPOLOGY EDUCATION; HIGH SCHOOL; NORTH AMERICA; SMITHSONIAN INSTITUTION

Abstract

To anyone who has taught anthropology to middle and high-school students in the United States, the discipline's value to intellectual and social development is undeniable. These educators are the engine of a small, long-lived movement to make anthropology a core part of the curriculum that students are exposed to during middle and high school, before they enter college or university. Despite valiant efforts and because of some very difficult challenges - (public misperception of the field, lack of institutional support, and the nature of the U.S. public education system) - the movement has not caught the momentum it needs to induce major changes. Nonetheless, new opportunities and some limited pockets of success offer good reasons to be cautiously optimistic. Rather than trying to compel entire school districts or education departments to adopt anthropology courses and standards, advocates are now focused on leveraging such opportunities to introduce as many educators and students as possible to anthropology.

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