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Jake's Blog

I recently began reading James Lowen's, Lies My Teacher Told Me, and I must say I haven't been this engaged in a book in awhile. It forces us to reexamine how we teach American history to our students. Lowen points out various inconsistencies in a series of American history textbooks that are centered around what is referred to as a "eurocentric" point of view. He spends a lot of time writing about the history of Columbus, early attempts at European "settlement" in America, slavery, and several other instances where textbooks have chosen to look at history from strictly a European perspective. Lowen argues that instead of focusing on a discussion of "us" versus "them", we must acknowledge that there are several different cultures and ethnicities that have come to create what we know as American culture, all of which have had a significant impact on our national identity. He is very critical of textbooks attempt to idolize prominent figures in American history without a consideration of their faults. One of Lowen's main arguments in the book is that we must take a look at what made our heroes human to enforce the notion to our students that they had to overcome obstacles to become the figures they were. In an era where teacher's are forced to teach to a test or standardized textbooks, Lowen's perspective on American history is refreshing. I encourage anyone who has a passion for American history to read at least a few chapters in the book (if none other, chapters 3 and 4 regarding Native Americans). I guarantee it will make you think!