History: Our Worst Taught Subject

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There are few things that we all have in common. Those few things consist of minor, physical dependencies as well as environmental behaviors required for survival. However, there also exist some intangible traits that all of us share and live to repeat everyday. The one most interesting thing we all share is our history. When regarding the American people, we all share the same history; it is only our place in that history that is different. Just as we all speak, some of us use a different tongue. It is this joint history that is taught in schools, spoken about in dialogue, and used as a template for the future. Unfortunately, the history that we know may not be as real as we think. History has been a much debated subject throughout…show more content…
Loewen argues that the fact memorization approach to education is useless, and generally results in a mass of people who think the Civil War was in 1776 after which the United States drew up a constitution and formed a country. In accordance with this philosophy, Sandra Wong states in her article “Life Course: Stages and Institutions,” that the attitude of many professional historical associations is not to teach “history as fact memorization,” but to teach the history as being open for the students’ own understanding (Wong 4). In conjunction with this is Allan Kownslar’s statement, in the book Teaching American History: A Quest for Relevancy, that “many students assume that a history textbook is the history of whatever topic appears on the title page” (19). This is scary when considering the usual language of the title pages, as James Loewen agrees that the “problem originates […] at the beginning,” he notes such titles as “Rise of the American Nation” and “The Great Republic.” He compares these titles to the titles of texts of different subjects and how they are not called “Rise of the Molecule,” but plainly “Chemistry” (Loewen…show more content…
James Loewen, in his book Lies My Teacher Told Me, explores the differences of story between several texts that are supposed to be of the new age, ethno-sensitive and fact based. Loewen specifically investigates the story of the first Thanksgiving and subsequent Indian-Settler relationships. In the textbook Land of Promise, the author tells a story involving an Indian named Squanto who is known for having taught the pilgrims to grow crops, and was the essential part of the pilgrim’s success at colonizing Plymouth. Squanto, according to the text, was a nomadic man who quickly learned English and assimilated himself into the white man’s world, and later making a small fortune for himself in the little known Indian slave trade. Without Squanto, the Pilgrims would have run out of food in the first few weeks. The book portrays Squanto as a heroic peacemaker among the “troublesome” Indians and the new Settlers. The excerpt ends by acknowledging Squanto as being present and partly responsible for the first thanksgiving (Loewen 83). This portrayal of the famous feast suggests the first peaceful integration of Indians and Settlers, but interestingly enough the text leaves out much of the tragedy that befell many of the

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