This issue is devoted to postcommunist education. Throughout east central Europe, new syllabi and textbooks are being introduced, and changes in the Soviet-enforced interpretations of events are made in a hurry. Our longtime supporter, Sally R. Boss, examines the history and literature high school textbooks published in 1989-1991. So far as we know, this is the first such survey ever undertaken in the United States. The reviewer showers praise on the textbooks of ancient and medieval history and literature, but she points out that there are remnants of "communist pablum" in textbooks dealing with the later periods, and she argues that the thrust of Polish interpretations of European history and literature is not always comprehensive.
This issue features two college-age writers. A sophomore from a midwestern college, Joe Kelly, performs a service for the scholars of eastern Europe by offering a firsthand account of what a mainstream American high school student learns, or does not learn, about that part of the world. We are told that Poland, Czechoslovakia and Hungary have been routinely regarded as part of the Soviet world in high school textbooks, with hardly any identity of their own, with their history erased from American memory and their achievements wiped out from historical materials available in high school libraries.
These are reminders of the awesome responsibility which teachers have in regard to these matters, and the necessity to overcome indolence and lack of concern in regard to the truncated history of Europe that is being taught on college campuses.
What can others do? Parents whose kids are in high school might consider volunteering for substitute teaching or volunteerng to give talks in history courses. This is a drop in the bucket but, as we know, kropla drazy skale. There is a connection between the present rush to help Russia and the coolness in regard to eastern Europe among America's politicians. What you do not know does not hurt you. The general public knows about the sufferings of the Muscovites but is unaware of the agonies of the Varsovians.
One of our book reviews was written by a recent college graduate who has no scholarly or personal knowledge of eastern Europe; she reviewed for us because of her interest in children's literature in which she intends to specialize in graduate school. It is instructive for Americans of east European descent to face up to the view of the white ethnics generated by our schools which this review reveals. While the fashionable "minorities" are beneficiaries of sensitivity training, east Europeans are implicitly dismissed. In this context, it is important to remember that all Americans have the right to an agenda, and that the labeling of those agendas is a continuing process.
Our two issues on university syllabi were widely distributed, and shortly afterwards we began receiving other syllabi of university courses on eastern Europe. We shall print them in forthcoming issues.
The syllabus in this issue was composed by one of those fine teachers of east European subjects who are scattered like pearls among non-Ivy League universities. It is to them that the general American public owns what little it knows about the history of Americans of east European background. What is particularly attractive about the course on the Slavs and western civilization taught by Professor Theodosia Robertson of the University of Michigan-Flint is the way she relates the histories of the various Slavic nations to her students' ethnic backgrounds. She admirably covers the entire Slavic field. We find her choice of textbooks and her approach perfectly suited to the circumstances and deserving of emulation.
In BOOKS, we welcome a new anthology of Polish medieval literature published recently by Garland Press and authored by Professor Michael J. Mikos. This work covers a larger ground than Professor Bogdana Carpenter's Monumenta Polonica, and we are particularly happy to note that the medieval period of Polish literary history begins to receive its due attention from Slavic scholars in the United States.
In LETTERS, Professor Piotr Wandycz rightly points out that the need to integrate east European studies into general European studies should not preclude specialization in eastern, or east central, Europe; while Professor Theodosia Robertson aptly compares present day approach to European history to a concern with Europe's torso to the exclusion of Europe's limbs. She also calls attention to the opportunities for Slavists to claim a share of the turf in the emerging courses on ethnic diversity in Europe and the United States.