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If, as Lies My Teacher Told Me shows, history is the least-liked . and the subtitle, “Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong.” If.
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- NPR Choice page
- Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong (Paperback)
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NPR Choice page
But Loewen's goal here isn't to simply depress or burden readers with the more honest, more complicated view of American History though that would still be a laudable goal in itself. Rather, he carefully examines why our history is taught this way, and how such methods negatively shape our perception of our shared heritage.
Loewen purports that through constant whitewashing and borderline-deification of historical figures our perception of the past, and by extension the present, is warped in such a way that we view our world from the sidelines, as spectators rather than participants. By attributing major historical changes to individuals rather than social movements, history lessons effectively discourage active participation in current events.
After all, why bother trying to change the world when a Lincoln or MLK will inevitably come along and do it anyway? He also makes the point that the version of history we are often taught tends to be far too Eurocentric, often ignoring or spending little time on the actions and contributions from non-white, non-male figures who played significant roles in history.
Loewen points out that the myopic perspective from which history is taught often make the subject seem alienating and marginalizing for students of other heritages and backgrounds. When I first read Lies My Teacher Told Me, it had an incredible impact on the way that I view and approach a number of things in my life. There are the eye-opening history lessons, sure, but more than that, it made me consider the impact that history can have on our view of the world.
There aren't many books that I can say have honestly changed my worldview as much as Lies has, and that's probably the greatest praise that a book can receive. Searing indictment of the American History textbooks used in American high schools at the time the book was written.
Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong (Paperback)
The author examines 12 textbooks with publication dates ranging from to see how the image they present of key events and personalities compare with the reality. The results are worse than appalling. With rare exceptions, the books present highly sanitized versions in order to instill a sense of "America is the greatest country in the world" to children who are on the cusp of becoming voting citizens. He goes on to explain how publishers force authors to whitewash or even omit any events that might tarnish iconic images so that the books will meet the approval of the powerful bodies that set state educational standards.
Not only are students fed misinformation, few of the texts make more than a token effort to introduce students to start thinking critically for themselves. And critical thinking is far more important in the digital age than it was 15 years ago. This is definitely a book that everyone should read, especially elementary teachers. It is important that elementary teachers be familiar with the information in this book so they will not perpetuate the lies told about exploration, settlement, colonization and wars.
The information about american history paints a completely different picture of America than the one we are familiar with. Instead of the bland optimism in the commonly used texts books, this book presents a documented history of the struggles of our minorities.
Instead of a series of facts, it presents a series of well documented incidents. Such as, President Woodrow Wilson's military interventions in many Latin American countries and secret military aide to the 'White Russians'. This book incorporates the pride of many races and ethnic groups unlike our typical history books. For example, the Native Americans are the true founders of our country, not the pilgrims as we all have been mislead to believe.
I really enjoyed the whole context of this book and I feel like I have so much to learn and it is disappointing that as a country we are not forced to read more books like this in our education. Another disturbing point that the book made was the fact that in college required coursework, history is not included. I recall hearing about this book when it came out in the '90s, but it remains pertinent today. It begins at the purported beginning of America with Christopher Columbus. Of course, that wasn't the real beginning - native peoples had been residing here for thousands of years.
Loewen sorts through the facts, citing actual textbook passages and then demonstrating how primary material proves the books to be outright lies or embellishments. However, from the vantage point of publishers and teachers, the textbooks are a success. The point of the book isn't to encourage critical thinking - it's to invoke a sense of patriotism and pride.
How are we supposed to have pride in Columbus's greed or obliteration of Haitians?
The accomplishments of Plymouth settlers seem a lot more bold when they are described as carving a home in the wilderness - not that they took over the pre-existing village of Squanto's tribe who had all died due to European diseases. Or how about the founding fathers' use of slaves? Or Abraham Lincoln's use of the n-word?
He proposes that when American history textbooks elevate American historical figures to the status of heroes , they unintentionally give students the impression that these figures are superhumans who live in the irretrievable past. In other words, the history-as-myth method teaches students that America's greatest days have already passed. Loewen asserts that the muting of past clashes and tragedies makes history boring to students, especially groups excluded from the positive histories. In the second edition, Loewen added a newer edition of The American Pageant and six additional textbooks:.
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The book has been released in three distinct editions. For the original edition, Loewen examined twelve textbooks. For the edition, he revised the text to address six additional textbooks. The edition retains the same text as the edition, adding a new preface The age of alternative facts. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
Dewey Decimal. Poster and booklet. By James W. Graphic corrective to the traditional textbook narratives about Columbus.
Book — Non-fiction. By James Loewen. The mis-education provided by monuments and historic markers across the United States.
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