Lies my Teacher Told me

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Kerryn-Danyea Freeman

AP World History

Book: Lies my teacher told me, everything your American history textbook got wrong

Author: James W. Loewen

During my period of time that I had to read this very persuasive book into believing that you’re casual every day period of History class is basically nothing but a waste of time if not taught in the correct context. Which would include the good, the bad, and the all in between of the subject of that person or situation in history that would be important enough for generations to come to know and remember about in all its entirety.

This book also includes how Americans have lost their touch with their history, and in this thought-stimulating book, James Loewen shows just why. After surveying twelve leading high school American history texts, he has concluded that not one of them does a decent or even good enough job of making history interesting or memorable. Flawed by an embarrassing combination of blind patriotism, mindless hopefulness, upright misinformation, and outright lies, these books leave out almost all the uncertainty, passion, conflict, and drama from our past. In ten powerful chapters, Loewen reveals that:

Surely textbooks should include some people based on not only what they achieved but also

on the distance they traversed to achieve it, as written in page 9 of chapter 1. Also in chapter one

mainly in page 17, 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. James also had written that “Woodrow Wilson’s administration was openly hostile to

black people…….. Wilson was not only anti-black”. To the history in chapter 4 page 116, about

the truth of native Americans, “ Six of the twelve histories I studies avoid this cliché of Indian

naitives about land ownership………several of them even point out that the problem lay in

whites not abiding by accepting concepts of land ownership.” From the truth about Columbus's

historical voyages to an honest evaluation of our national leaders in chapter 8 page 230, Loewen

revives our history, restoring to it the vitality and relevance it truly possesses.

In the book, Loewen covers: faulty heroic personification of false heroes vs. the lowering worth of America’s real heroes; the need to reference primary sources; our country’s forward moving belief which tends to ignore historical foreshadowing; the importance of students to think for themselves and question important events in history; and the ruin that the textbook industry has turned into. As you can see, there is a lot covered here, and this isn’t any of the lies. As I said, there is a lot explained in this book about why each historic lie was established.

There is a point in the book where Loewen refers to a passage from 1984. In 1984, George

Orwell says, “…he who controls the present controls the past.” When Loewen refers to this

quote, he is referring to the upper class and whites controlling the educational system and

textbook publishing. I believe there could’ve been a better use for this quote. While it may be

true that most history textbooks bend or throw shade history in favor of the upper class or whites,

I am deciding to use this particular quote in another fashion.

“Who controls the present controls the past.”

That, my friends, should be a charge; a mission directed at all those in the history teaching

profession. Take control of the knowledge dispersed in your classrooms (the present) and teach

the correct past. Discard the provided textbooks (not really ofcourse) and teach what you know

should be taught. Allow yourself to step out of your teaching comfort zone. I have a teacher
(not going to say anyone’s name) that likes to grill his students to push their...
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