Hodder Education has withdrawn a textbook questioning if the treatment of Native Americans has been exaggerated, following complaints.
The AQA-approved book, USA 1865-1975: The Making of a SuperPower (Hodder Education), for AS and A-Level students, asked students to balance "criticisms of treatment of Native Americans" with a defence of their treatment in the late 1800s, a period when some Native American tribes were massacred.
Hannah Wilkinson, who offers history mentoring sessions at Durham Sixth Form Centre, first raised criticisms on Twitter. She shared the page from the book which shows a pair of scales and includes the question: “To what extent do you believe the treatment of Native Americans has been exaggerated?”
“I do some history mentoring and while prepping for tomorrow's session I have some questions for you @AQA," she tweeted. "In what world is this is an acceptable question/exercise to ask students to complete on the history of Native Americans in late 1800s US? Actually horrified.”
The exercise was "quite problematic", Wilkinson told the BBC. She added: "It was deeply shocking to see how ingrained racial injustice is.
"The period we're looking at is a period of American policy where Native Americans were treated terribly. The way the textbook framed it suggests that maybe the treatment of Native Americans has been exaggerated."
Hodder Education has withdrawn the book, it confirmed in a tweet. "We agree that this content is inappropriate and are going to remove this book from sale," the publisher tweeted. "We will conduct a thorough review of the content with subject experts."
The company told The Bookseller: "Some content from the 2015 textbook, AQA A-level Making of a Superpower, has been highlighted that we thought should be re-considered to make it as sensitive and accurate as possible. We have removed the book from sale while we commission additional expert reviews, including from academics, to help us think again about that content. We are always working to do better, to learn from feedback, and are now engaged actively with those reviews as part of that process."
An AQA spokesperson confirmed on Twitter: "We’ve spoken with the publisher @HodderSchools and they’ll remove this book from sale and review its content. We’re also working together with publishers to ensure that new and updated editions of AQA approved textbooks meet our commitment to EDI [equality diversity and inclusion]."
Back in 2018, Hodder Education withdrew a GCSE sociology textbook from sale after concerns were raised that it contained a number of offensive statements about minority groups. The book, originally approved by the national exam board, had attracted criticism for statements that Caribbean fathers are “largely absent” and that children in those communities are passed between relatives. The publisher removed all outstanding stock of the AQA GCSE (9-1) Sociology textbook and produced a fully revised new edition.