Lies My Teacher Told Me
History is a science of objectivity that should depict a variety of situations in a non-biased way. This condition ought to be followed in order to show the multiple aspects and the complexity of phenomena. This is to be an ideal representation of the historical evidence. However, it often happens that the comprehension of history is distorted; and people are deprived of a right to understand an actual sense of numerous events and even epochs. As a result, they dive into the whirl of false perceptions and stereotypes. This routine veils the entire society.
When one comes to reading such a book as Lies My Teacher Told Me by James W. Loewen, it becomes clear that this source is called to highlight something truthful and evoke the person’s reevaluation regarding the commonly known issues. Indeed, this monograph is a fascinating discovery of a hidden side of an important era in the U.S. history, which we used to perceive in a one-sided manner. Honestly, most facts from the work impressed me much and made the curtain fall literary. I mean that following my learning experience at school, now I had to agree with Loewen that my teacher had told me lies as well. It could be based on a number of textbooks revealing these lies. More so, we all used to believe an American interpretation of the history of America. We disregarded or wished not to find any other explanations or determinants to events that have happened since Columbus seemingly discovered America. In this way, the advanced Europe-origin residents of the contemporary U.S.A. simply have not taken into account a perspective of Indigenous populations within the generally accepted historical framework.
The more I read the more I come to realize that the history of the United States of America and a greater part of the world could have been different. Namely, it could be not that bloody, and without innocent deaths and distorted memories. Moreover, I experienced mixed feelings of sorrow and, to some extent, unacceptability of bold historical facts presented by Loewen. Drawing upon the shocking debunking of myths, it was hard to understand that what I used to believe was farce. Furthermore, the realization of the fact that more developed nations constantly had exploited the darker ones and still oppressed them in multiple ways was another disappointment I had faced.
As it has been earlier stated, the monograph under consideration is entirely based on some facts that refute the previously acceptable one-sided understanding of history. It will not even be a mistake to assert that we somewhere deep in our mind were confident that this interpretation had been incomplete. Nonetheless, we used to believe what had been taught. Besides, we had no evidence to prove the opposite. In any way, Loewen has provided the clarity with his book. Moreover, reading it precisely assists in making a thorough picture of the historical panorama. For instance, a hero making process described in the first chapter makes it clear that even invasions can be depicted as the acts of friendliness with neighboring nations. In this way, Wilson’s invasions to the Caribbean were justified. He was found to be innocent in the case since he had no other choice. However, this interpretation of events simply makes no sense due to that how military aggression can be innocent at all. The chapter two is not less surprising since praising Columbus and other discoverers of the European origin is one more proof for Euro centrism and global oppression. Particularly, we might feel that the discovery of America is blurring. Nevertheless, we did not know it had been a pure manifestation of greed and exploitation.
Further, Thanksgiving, as a favorite holiday of modern Americans, is found to be a start point of genocide of Indigenous populations. Specifically, discoverers destroyed 95% of autochthones by the means of European diseases. In this regard, a biological weapon was applied first when America was discovered. It was an initial act of Thanksgiving. The chapter four reveals other astonishing facts. To be more precise, the civilized new Americans have adopted some aspects of sophisticated local societies, observed via the examples from the Bill of Rights among other issues. On the other hand, settlers constantly were oppressing and fighting against this world branded as uncivilized, enslaving, or physically destroying Native Americans. The next section deals with slavery that is seemingly to be in the past. However, Loewen refutes this truth from textbooks written under supremacy of whites.
This phenomenon has always been, and it is now, though its image has changed. Specifically, the author considers an example of analyzing whether Jefferson had a son. Whereas his son was black, he was called childless in textbooks. In addition, the personality of John Brown is controversial to me due to that historical textbooks had interpreted his activities as those ranging from completely insane to regaining sanity and insane again. After reading Loewen’s reasoning, I understand that he had been sane. In fact, he was a national hero who was fighting against slavery and died for his ideas. Conversely, although President Lincoln was an anti-racist, he is shown as a leader of the white supremacy in textbooks.
In the chapter seven, the author emphasizes that school history books provide a poor highlighting of a class structure and struggles concerning the American society. This issue is hard to be disregarded. Additionally, the scholar asserts that women’s rights and anti-racism movements are highlighted to some extent, notwithstanding that the representation of these topics is scarce. A salient author’s position is distinguished concerning the perception of the government. It is proved to be always strong and never wrong.
Indeed, such understanding of the governmental policies has been planted in our minds all the time. Apart from that, we tend to believe that governmental policies were and are being always right. They avoid their evaluation and argumentation because we used to do so before. The chapters nine and ten underline that the contemporary textbooks pay too much attention to the past, while leaving too little space for highlighting recent events. Despite that, the authors have many opportunities to provide objective insights. They are guided by a stereotype stressing that America is sinless in all dimensions. Even though both teachers and students know about the flaws of current texts and their subjectivity, it is a way to comprehend the history through minimal efforts. Thus, it is accepted. For this reason, the society is solely based on Euro centrism, while minorities remain alienated. Nonetheless, the scholar does not consider the situation as hopeless and provides an interesting approach to address the issue. In particular, the researcher puts an accent on a necessity to (a) stick learning to the students’ experience and make the process learner-centered; (b) choose fewer controversial topics rather than cover all; (c) encourage their researching work, etc. (Loewen, 2007, p. 358).
The arguments presented by Loewen seem apt and weighted, in spite of being partially too exaggerated. Undoubtedly, there is an urgent need to transform our vision of history. I will do my best to make such efforts. Of course, we should not teach and promote how bad our ancestors had used to be and highlight the past in a thoroughly negative light. There were many episodes that Americans may be proud of. However, I will try to make my students as not consumers of what is being taught but the critical thinkers. The pieces of advice mentioned above by Loewen are appropriate here. In any case, an objective comprehension of the history from as many perspectives as parties involved would be a sound solution to revive the memories of the national self-consciousness. It should be done among people; and, at least, we should somehow rehabilitate ourselves in front of new generations.
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