Effective Use of Pathos in Lies My Teacher Told Me
James W. Loewen’s Lies My Teacher Told Me is a critically acclaimed work pertaining to the inaccuracies found in many history textbooks. Lies My Teacher Told Me notes that history is a school subject often disliked by students. Loewen contends that history is not appreciated because it may be considered intrinsically unappealing, but rather because history is taught in a poor manner. Although Loewen uses all three modes of persuasion in his book, his powerful use of pathos allows for his most convincing argument because he appeals to the emotions of his readers to convey a message that the methods by which American history is taught are flawed. Loewen writes with confidence and an authoritative voice throughout Lies My Teacher Told Me. This is of little surprise, as Loewen is a distinguished professor of sociology at The University of Vermont. He possesses valuable experience in evaluating American history textbooks, allowing him to appear knowledgeable to his readers. A combination of expertise and intelligence allow for a strong ethos in his writing.
Lies My Teacher Told Me carries a common theme throughout the book: American history lessons are flawed. Loewen begins his book by appealing to the thoughts and emotions of high school and college students, his primary audience. This use of pathos allows Loewen to be straightforward in the First Edition Introduction: “Students consider history “the most irrelevant” of twenty-one subjects commonly taught in high school” (Loewen 1). He alludes to what most high school students already believe: history is boring. Loewen notes that history textbooks appear bland and often cover far too much information. Textbooks often have a lack of solid causation and lead students astray by focusing on facts, figures, and dates rather than main ideas and historical connections. Combining the average student’s attitudes towards history with flawed teaching methods leads one to...
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