Lies My Teacher Told Me

james loewen

Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong’ is a 1995 book by sociologist James Loewen. It critically examines twelve American history textbooks and concludes that textbook authors propagate factually false, Eurocentric, and mythologized views of history. In addition to critiquing the dominant historical themes presented in textbooks, Loewen presents a number of his own historical themes that he says are ignored by traditional history textbooks. A revised and updated edition was released in 2008.

Loewen criticizes modern American history textbooks for containing inaccurate depictions of historical figures such as Christopher Columbus. He further criticizes the texts for a tendency to avoid controversy and for their ‘bland’ and simplistic style. He proposes that when American history textbooks elevate American historical figures to the status of heroes, they unintentionally give students the impression that these figures are part of an unattainable past. In other words, the history-as-myth method teaches students that America’s greatest days have already passed. Loewen asserts that the muting of past clashes and tragedies makes history boring to students, especially groups excluded from the positive histories.

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