Improving the Teaching of Hinduism and
Indian History in California's K-12 Classrooms:
News, Resources and Strategic Analysis
Despite efforts by the Hindu community, the teaching of Hinduism and ancient Indian history in California K-12 public schools remains highly deficient. The impact on Hindu youth subjected to these classes has be substantial. Most become embarrassed or even ashamed of their religion, and suffer this humiliation in front of their classmates. A few have even abandoned Hinduism as a result, despoiling years of religious education by their parents. Minor progress was made on the textbooks in 2005, but not enough to change the overall presentation in which the Hindu religion is reduced to a single adverse concept: caste. Hinduism Today has reported on this issue since 1993, and in the last two years become actively involved with revisions being proposed to the California State Board of Education by its Instructional Quality Commission.
Though we are focused on California, this is a national issue as each year the history of India and the Hindu religion is taught in sixth and seventh grade social studies and world history classes to four million American children. The course material both on India and Hinduism is negative in ton, scholastically deficient, and very different from what is taught about other religions.
On this page, we offer resources for Hindu organizations and parents who seek to understand and impact this issue. The first two are "required reading."
In 2014-2015, Dr. Shiva Bajpai, professor emeritus of history at California State University Northridge and Acharya Arumuganathaswami, Managing Editor of Hinduism Today magazine, prepared this academic paper which downloads in PDF. It is a lengthy--and sometime tedious--analysis of how Indian history and the Hindu religion came to be taught at they are in the California public schools. It includes the various state laws and guidelines for the teaching of history in general, the origin of the current narrative of India and Hinduism in 19th century European Orientalism, the haphazard assembly of the specific points to be taught about India and Hinduism in the 1980s and 90s, how this manifests in the actual approved textbooks now in use in sixth grade and then concludes with analysis and recommendations for improvement.
This is a separate web page with a comprehensive strategic review of major actionable areas where Hindu organization and parents can influence all aspects of the instructional process, from the adoption of the Framework Narrative Revision, to the formal adoption of the school's history textbook, to providing supplemental material and resources for use in the schools to the counseling of children about to encounter the sixth grade unit on India in their social studies class.
2014-2016 Framework Narrative Revision
Beginning in 2015, the California Board of Education's Instructional Quality Commission has considered extensive revisions to the California Framework for History-Social Studies, which guides the teaching of history for the K-12 schools. The following documents are central to an understanding of the issues at hand:
2005 Edition of the History-Social Science Framework.
The 2014 History–Social Science Framework Field Review Draft
Submission of Edits to the Instructional Quality Commission on the India and Hindu sections of the Draft Narrative by Dr. Bajpai and Hinduism Today.
Links to all formal comments from individuals and organizations submitted by December 18, 2014 . Scroll down to the agenda to see the links.
Selected Hindu Testimony (video) at the December 18, 2015, hearing of the California State Board of Education's Instructional Quality Commission, Sacramento
Selected Hindu Testimony (audio) at the May 8, 2015, hearing of the California State Board of Education's Instructional Quality Commission, Sacramento
California State Board of Education Social Content Standards and Textbook Adoption Regulations and Procedures
Standards for Evaluating Instructional Materials for Social Content
Instructional Materials in California: An Overview of Standards, Curriculum Frameworks, Instructional Materials Adoptions, and Funding
Powerpoint presentations by Hinduism Today on the Textbook Issue
Issues in the Teaching of Hinduism in American K-12 Schools
Presentation by Acharya Arumuganathaswami, managing editor of Hinduism Today, at the Uberoi Conference, held October 1, 2011, at Loyola-Marymount University in Los Angeles, October 1, 2011. This is an overview explanation of how teaching process for 6th grade social studies is inherently biased against Hinduism, beginning with the writing of the state guidelines through the creation of the textbooks and presentation in the classrooms. Suggestions are given on improving the process.
California Textbook Issue Ten Actionable Items May 2015
Presentation by Acharya Arumuganathaswami, managing editor of Hinduism Today, given in California to Hindu organizations in May, 2015, explaining the present state of the textbook revision process and presenting ten actionable areas for parents and concerned Hindus to engage with the issue.