“Lies My Teacher Told Me” by James W. Loewen

The book that I chose for my book report was “Lies My Teacher Told Me”, by James W. Loewen. At first, I thought this book would be the worse out of the 5 to read. I thought that I do not need some Book to tell me I am uneducated in American history. But after I read it, I realized that the book is much more than that. It is a critique on so many factors in our society. Only one is the student’s education. But it does not critique the American history student like I thought. If a student is not original in his or her thought, it was because he or she was not led towards originality.

In truth, these problems are nobody’s fault in particular and Loewen does not point fingers at me saying I am not a good history student or teacher. Instead he demonstrates the need and the process to be original in thought and interpretation and study of history and this resonated very strongly with me. “Some adults simply do not trust children to think,” Loewen writes which means that it is not the students fault if he does not think originally about history. Therefore it is in a student’s power to correct the situation, and within the adults’ power to help the student of American history to make progress.

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If you attended history class in US public schools, chances are you believe Columbus discovered America, Helen Keller was an inspirational and democratic American, and you more than likely view Woodrow Wilson as champion on human rights and world peace. All of these beliefs are either outright lies, misinformation, or are guilty of lies by omission described by Loewen. In twelve chapters, Loewen demonstrates how the authors of high school textbooks distort history to the point that much of what the books contain is essentially untruthful.

He has chapters on how writers make boring heroes out of interesting historical people; what roles Christopher Columbus actually did and did not play in history; the real truth about how the United States has treated its native indigenous peoples; the subtle forms racism has taken in history books; the ways efforts to foster racial equality have been left out; how completely the textbooks ignore social class no matter how important its impact on history; systematically- taught misinformation about the Federal government; how incompletely recent

American history is covered or even left out; the facts about American history left out in order to present the history of the United States in an unreal but positive way; how history textbooks came to be so incomplete, inaccurate and distorted; and the harm that comes from teaching sanitized, politically-correct versions of history to students who have no way of intelligently questioning what they read. He argues that the sanitization of history means that students cannot see any relationship between cause and effect in history.

I think this book was chosen for an AP US Government and Politics class not only because it is the winner of the 1996 American Book Award, and the Oliver Cromwell Cox Award for Distinguished Anti-Racist Scholarship; but also because it discusses the harm that misleading and inaccurate history textbooks do to students’ perception of government and their future development. It lets the student know that finding out his or her history is not only the teachers job but the students’ as well.

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“Lies My Teacher Told Me” by James W. Loewen. (2017, Feb 17). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/lies-my-teacher-told-me/