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Lies My Teacher Told Me

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James W. Loewen wrote the book "Lies My Teacher Told Me" to help students understand the past of the United States, and how it is effecting the present. "Lies My Teacher Told Me" examines 12 various American history text books, and points out the various lies, flaws, and sugar coated stories the text books present. Loewen explains how textbooks practice heroification, and how race and race relations are a major issue when it comes to American history. Among these topics, Loewen also sheds light on the truth about social classes in America, and how textbooks lie about the past and try to avoid the recent past all together.

Among the many flaws American history textbooks have, one that stands out above the rest is heroification. Heroification is, according to Loewen "A generative process that makes people over into heroes.(pg 19)". Through heroification national heroes (such as Christopher Columbus) are always portrayed as perfect individuals, with only the best intentions and absolutely no flaws. Textbooks use heroification to inspire, and instate a sense of national pride in students. Though it may instate a sense of national pride in students, it does not present the truth. Heroification leaves out important facets of these "heroes" lives, and only presents trivial melodramatic details. By doing this students will never really fully understand why our "heroes" did what they did, and will never know the truth.

Race and race relations has always played a major role in the history of America, though it is vaguely misinterpreted. One example of this is Reconstruction. For decades, history textbooks have been presenting reconstruction as a failed attempt to resolve the issues of the civil war, due to white corruption and black ineptitude. When in reality, reconstruction failed due to white southern racist terrorism against blacks and white anti-racists. Another example is the Indian. American history textbooks portray Indians as savage people with no forms of government, technology, and existed in small numbers. Loewen reveals to us that Indians actually numbered in the tens of millions, had a steady form of government which is partially the foundation of todays government system, and that white "settlers" where actually the savages, for they destroyed Indian villages and actually scalped the Indians (not the other way around, as textbooks lead us to believe). Another example of misunderstanding related to race in the history of America is the slave trade. History textbooks lead us to believe that the slave trade was purely the trade of Africans to be purchased by Europeans. In all actuality, the slave trade was much larger than that. The slave trade was originally made up of Indians, these Indians where traded as slaves to Europeans, and later traded to African countries in exchange for African slaves.

American history textbooks pretend that America doesn't even have social classes. They cause students of working class families to believe that they are poor at the fault of there parents, not the system. In reality, opportunities for members of working class families are



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