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Lies My Teacher Told Me

The United States used more explosives in Vietnam than the whole of World War II, including the atomic bombs at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Woodrow Wilson was a white supremacist. Massachusetts was the first colony to legalize slavery. These and other facts are ones that seldom make it into U.S. history books, according to James W. Loewen (1995) in Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong. LoewenÆs (1995) main contention is that history textbooks selected by a conservative, primarily white, academia illustrate a shameful mixture of misinformation, omissions, blind patriotism, mindless optimism, and sheer lies. All of the vitality and relevance of history is undermined by such bias, one that Loewen (1995) claims makes history students ôstupiderö the more classes they take.

Loewen (1995) places a great deal of the blame on educators who select textbooks that are filled with distortions, omissions, and outright lies. Loewen provides a number of interesting examples to demonstrate his point. He explains the white supremacy of Woodrow Wilson. He discusses how textbooks sanitize the life of Helen Keller so that her life is turned into inspiration as opposed to reality. We do not learn she felt as an adult that not all odds could be overcome. We never really explore her championing of the poor. Instead, these kinds of messages or those that teach us equal opportunity may not exist in America are left out of textbooks. This is because the notion that one can rise from any station in life and become successful is a major tenet of the mythology that fuels the American Dream. However, as Loewen (1995, p. 34) explains, ôThere are three great taboos in textbook publishingàsex, religion, and social classàThe notion that opportunity might be unequal in America, that not everyone æhas the power to rise in the world,Æ is anathema to textbooks authors, and to


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Lies My Teacher Told Me. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 21:10, August 06, 2020, from