AP U.S. History
29 June 2015
Have you ever wondered whether history books were telling the truth? James W. Loewen's Lies My Teacher Told Me sheds some new light on American history – and how high school textbooks are getting it wrong. Professor Loewen, a race relations expert, opens Lies my Teacher Told Me with a simple allegation: "High school students hate history." He argues, history is both too complicated and too simple. Loewen finds that high school textbooks offer a confusing display of information. At the same time, the stories presented in textbooks all feature neat, clean facts passed on with vapid patriotism. This method, Loewen argues, reduces history to "a gray emotional landscape of pious duty" rather than a dramatic landscape of interrelated stories and events.
Mr. Loewen’s premise is that history textbooks have been presented to portray a slanted, optimistic and patriotic “dumbed-down” view of America, because this suits the needs of the conservative white people who sit on the textbook adoption boards. By critiquing 12 highly used American History textbooks, Loewen successfully presents several topics which they currently address, and uncovers the alleged omissions and distortions.
Chapter one is written with a focus on what Loewen refers to as "heroification," a "degenerative process that makes people over into heroes", understate a person's role in society, and or overstate it in order to make them appear as heroes of noble causes. Loewen first discusses Helen Keller and how most students are not taught that she was a radical social justice activist who openly praised the U.S.S.R. when it came into existence; coincidentally, Wilson actually commenced a secret war against the Bolsheviks that was overshadowed by his push for the "League of Nations" and his wars in Central America.
There’s the “discovery” and “exploration” of America, with the pertinent question of how a land settled for centuries can be either...