- Paperback: 383 pages
- Publisher: Simon & Schuster Inc; 1st Touchstone Ed edition (1 Sept. 1996)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0684818868
- ISBN-13: 978-0684818863
- Product Dimensions: 16.5 x 1.9 x 23.5 cm
- Average Customer Review: 77 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 172,230 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Lies My Teacher Told Me Paperback – 1 Sep 1996
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Criticizes the way history is presented in current textbooks, and suggests a fresh and more accurate approach to teaching American history.
About the Author
James W. Loewen
James W. Loewen is professor of sociology at the University of Vermont. He is coauthor of the first integrated state-history textbook, Mississippi: Conflict and Change, and creator of The Truth About Columbus: A Subversively True Poster Book for a Dubiously Celebratory Occasion.
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- That textbooks authors and editors are so involved in deep trench warfares with each other that they no longer pay attention to the quality content of their books, but are more concerned with the quantity of information in their books. This means that there is very little motivation for textbooks to be anything other than just a loose collection of dates and facts tied together by an overarching narrative.
- That textbooks are trending towards a more authoritarian attitude towards history (seeing history as a "done deal" and therefore simply facts to be taught) whilst the opposite is true (there is still a lot of events which are controversial in their causes) and history classes should encourage students to intellectually debate and explore possible reasons/alternative. Loewen also argues that history is more about learning cause and effect principles and how certain historical events still impact social attitudes around the world today.
- That textbooks will often deify national heroes and selectively omit "black marks" in historical events to promote a more benign character of America in the interests of patriotism, causing generations of "collective amnesia" where the real reason behind certain events are forgotten entirely. Sometimes history textbook authors will go as far as making up narrative in order to bridge events in history because the more plausible connection will actively damage the image of America.
Loewen issues a warning that the combination of these three factors above is highly damaging to children's development as they not only lose an interest in examining history (because it was presented to them as boring), but aso leaving them unable to reconcile current world problems with their historical origins (as they have not been taught these). After finishing this book I am more inclined to think skeptically and critically when articles or textbooks present history as fact without citing sources or invoking discussions, and it makes me wonder how much of what we learnt in school was true and how much was nonsense.
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