The teaching and learning of history has been and will, by its very nature, be an area of much debate and controversy. History is essentially the story of mankind over the centuries. It is the story of people of another time and often of another place. We know, despite the guiding rules of historiography, that the historian is writing from his position in a different place and at a later time. Yet, he is writing of mankind. And our lives wherever, and however apart in time, have remained essentially the same. As a result, questions of the historian’s perspective and motivation and sources become inevitable. Also inevitable becomes the hope that through an understanding of the history of man, today’s child will discover a more sane way of living.

It is this demand and hope that we place on the teaching of history that makes the right textbook so difficult to find. The textbook must deal with the subject area that we wish to explore. It must be accessible to the student. It must not simply be a record of personalities and events. The history textbook must allow for an understanding of the various factors that influence an action or situation. It must allow for insights into human nature. It must be sensitive to the subtle issues involved. And, finally, it must try as hard as it can to present the ‘truth’.

Perhaps no one source can satisfy all these requirements. Below are reviewed four books and two approaches to the curriculum we have come across that go beyond the traditional textbook and rise up to meet greater demands and hopes.

Recreating the Sangam and Pallava Ages: Reflections on New Writings
Venkatesh Onkar

Learning About the Beginnings of Life: Reflections of New Writings
P. Ramesh

Cities and Cultures: New Approaches to the Curriculum
Alok Mathur

A New Way of Thinking for Children: New Approaches to the Curriculum
Akhila Seshadri