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In Lies My Teacher Told Me author James W. Loewen, takes shocks his reader by first off telling them that their history had been telling was pretty much lies. He explains that history textbooks writers use textbooks that are already written as their guide to writing new textbooks. He uses the term heroification, which means that the textbook author takes a human being, that has made mistakes and turns them into the perfect person that they were not. So now the true question that remains is: ‘What is real and what isn’t real in the history books?’.
Mr. Loewen says how the process of heroification has taken an imperfect human and turns them into someone that everyone can look up to, but all that was accomplished was hiding the truth about the ‘heroes’ of American history.
He wanted to know what the purpose of lying to students, who already disliked history, truly is. He brings out what is being taught isn’t helping bring the country together, but rather tearing them apart even more than it already it is.
He points out that most “often a textbook is written not by the authors whose names grace its cover, but by minions deep in the bowels of the publisher’s office”. “Textbooks also keep students in the dark about the nature of history”, he says which is the way most students fresh from high students don’t know how to get through society and its problems.
James W. Loewen is an American sociologist, historian, and author of his best known 1955 book, Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong.
He has taught race relation for twenty years at the University of Vermont, before that he taught at a predominantly black Tougaloo College in Mississippi. While living in Washington, D.C., he still continues his research on Americans remembering their past. He attended Carleton College and also holds a Ph.D. in sociology from Harvard College. He is the co-author of Mississippi: Conflict and Change, a United States history textbook written in 1974.
The book was not used and rejected by Mississippi public schools because of the topic that was mainly focused on, which was racial problems. He wants teachers to read his book and use it to challenge their students more so that they dig deeper than the surface of the subjects covered in textbooks. He mentions several times that while writing Lies My Teacher Told Me, he compared 12 different textbooks. Ten out of twelve chapters of the books tell stories that textbooks never cover, at least not to the story’s capacity. In chapter eleven, he talks about what it takes to write and create a textbook and how the adoption process of the book by the publisher work. In the Introduction to his book, he mentions the textbook that he was the co-author to and how the state of Mississippi didn’t want the book used in its public schools. He talks about the usage of regular standard textbooks, and they “actually make students stupid”. He also provides a citation lists and things that he recommends teachers to do so that their students and themselves may learn American history truthfully.
I saw that he would dwell on one topic or subject and though I see this as a strength also, I view it more of a weakness because after reading a paragraph about the same person it tends to get a little boring. I became to see the book in these parts as more of a history lesson, then him trying to prove his point of how textbook authors falsify the truth
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