Professor John Lee Discusses His Work On Accurate Portrayals of Persian History in CA Schools

Professor John Lee Discusses His Work On Accurate Portrayals of Persian History in CA Schools

On May 27th, 2014 Professor John Lee (UCSB History) spoke with History Advocates on the ongoing effort to develop a more accurate portrayal of Persian history in California primary and secondary schools.

For the full interview please visit: KPFA Interview with History Advocates and Prof. John Lee (May 27th, 2014)

Lee’s efforts were also highlighted in a recent LA Times article:


“The contents of history textbooks taught in primary and secondary schools across the United States are subject to standards developed by each state. Even though these standards are periodically reevaluated and revised, in many instances they remain outdated and deficient. This problem is particularly acute when it comes to ancient history and the role and contributions of the Persian civilization. The perception of ancient Persian civilization has been traditionally shaped by one-sided accounts of Greek historians. In recent decades, however, extensive research and scholarship on the history of the Persian Empire, the largest empire in the ancient world, have dramatically changed that distorted perception. While the results of the latest scholarship on this subject are reflected in the history curricula at the university level, many state standards for K- 12 history-social science continue to suffer from the biases perpetuated by the Classical view.

Textbooks developed based on these deficient standards reflect this shortcoming in two respects. First, by not including an adequate historical narrative of the civilization of ancient Persia, these textbooks omit an important building block that is crucial to the understanding of ancient history. Further, where Persian history is treated at all, it is done so in a skewed manner and merely as a footnote to the Hellenic world. As such, these textbooks tend to adopt language and depictions that are demeaning and offensive, especially to students of Persian heritage.  An initiative to address this problem is underway in California.”