Lies My Teacher Told Me

Sammie:

I watched most of the Bill Moyers interview, and it really hit me that Rev. Wright truly is out of touch. He said we are only taught good things about this country and not about the Trail of Tears or slavery.

However, kids are taught about these things today, they are taught about the government breaking treaties, they are taught about free states and slave states and the underground railroad etc.

 

Sammie needs to actually understand that we do NOT teach the flaws of America. Instead, it is one unbroken stream of progress. We are a great nation. We would be greater if we did a better job addressing our own past.
Here is James Loewen, from Lie My Teacher Told Me (from this compilation of book excerpts):

“[T]he teaching of history, more than any other discipline, is dominated by textbooks. And. . . textbooks are boring. The stories that history textbooks tell are predictable, every problem has already been solved or is about to be solved. Textbooks exclude conflict or real suspense. They leave out anything that might reflect badly upon national character.”–pg. 2

“Textbooks almost never use the present to illuminate the past. They might ask students to consider gender roles in contemporary society as a means of prompting students to think about what women did and did not achieve in the suffrage movement or in the more recent women’s movement. They might ask students to prepare household budgets for the families of a janitor and a stockbroker as a means of prompting thinking about labor unions and social classes in the past and present. They might, but they don’t. The present is not a source of information for writers of history textbooks.

Conversely, textbooks seldom use the past to illuminate the present. They portray the past as a simple-minded morality play. ‘Be a good citizen’ is the message that textbooks extract from the past. ‘You have a proud heritage. Be all that you can be. After all, look at what the United States has accomplished.’ While there is nothing wrong with optimism, it can become something of a burden for students of color, children of working-class parents, girls who notice a dearth of female historical figures, or members of any group that has not achieved socioeconomic success. The optimistic approach prevents any understanding of failure other than blaming the victim. No wonder children of color are alienated. Even for male children from affluent white families, bland optimism gets pretty boring after eight hundred pages.” –pg. 3

“Why are history textbooks so bad? Nationalism is one of the culprits.Textbooks are often muddled by conflicting desires to promote inquiry and to indoctrinate blind patriotism.”–pg. 3

An interview with Loewen.

Lies My Teacher Told Me

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