Friend's Email: Subject:I have found a book that I think you would enjoy
Lies My Teacher Told Me : Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong
Lies My Teacher Told Me Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong Author:James W. Loewen Winner of the 1996 American Book Award and the Oliver Cromwell Cox Award for Distinguished Anti-Racist ScholarshipAmericans have lost touch with their history, and in this thought-provoking book, Professor James Loewen shows why. After surveying twelve leading high school American history texts, he has concluded that not one does a... more » decent job of making history interesting or memorable. Marred by an embarrassing combination of blind patriotism, mindless optimism, sheer misinformation, and outright lies, these books omit almost all the ambiguity, passion, conflict, and drama from our past. In ten powerful chapters, Loewen reveals that:
The United States dropped three times as many tons of explosives in Vietman as it dropped in all theaters of World War II, including Hiroshima and Nagasaki
Ponce de Leon went to Florida mainly to capture Native Americans as slaves for Hispaniola, not to find the mythical fountain of youth
Woodrow Wilson, known as a progressive leader, was in fact a white supremacist who personally vetoed a clause on racial equality in the Covenant of the League of Nations
The first colony to legalize slavery was not Virginia but Massachusetts
From the truth about Columbus's historic voyages to an honest evaluation of our national leaders, Loewen revives our history, restoring to it the vitality and relevance it truly possesses.« less
The author takes the usual textbooks to task for their omissions and outright lies. He makes the point that having teachers smooth and gloss over what really happened in our country's past not only gives a false sense of past events, but it also leeches out any of the drama of history and creates the disinterest in our classrooms. He takes familiar things, throws in some new information and puts the whole in thing in context. He manages to make history interesting.
While this book is slightly dated (copyright 1995) and I graduated high school more than a dozen years before that, I have a feeling the issues that Mr Loewen discusses in his book are still issues in high school American history coursework today.
A well-written book that covers the many errors (yes, completely wrong information) and omissions that are common in most books used to teach American history in our classrooms. And, how the misinterpretation of our countries history is detrimental to many of the students that learn this history especially Native American and African-American students.
The authors main issue with how American history is taught is that it must be taught that one view is the right view. There is never a presentation that choices that were made may not have been the best option or how the choices affected the lives of Americans going forward. Our high school American history books present our history in black and white and not the many shades of gray that it truly is.
I felt he hit on one of the main problems in how American history is taught in our schools and sadly, it is the result of influence from the American Legion (a good organization) that came up with these four goals for the ideal textbook for teaching American history in 1925:
Must inspire the children with patriotism
Must be careful to tell the truth optimistically
Must dwell on failure only for its value as a moral lesson, must speak chiefly of success . . .
Must give each State and SEctin full space and value for the achievements of each
The problem with these four goals is that they force the history book writers to gloss over the bad parts of American history and put too much emphasis on what went well.
For me, his book points out that, in addition to falling behind in math and science, American students are falling behind in the critical thinking that is needed to make decisions about our world going forward based on what really did or did not happen in the past.
As our education system is set up today (assuming it is still the same model as 1995), we are doomed to repeat history, over and over again.