James W. Loewen's In Lies My Teacher Told Me

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James W. Loewen is a sociologist who taught race relations for twenty years at the University of Vermont.[1] He received a PhD in sociology at Harvard and taught at Tougaloo College in Mississippi before Vermont.[2] In 1974, he wrote a history textbook for Mississippi students, but the state rejected it because his depictions of slavery were “too horrific for high school students to stomach.”[3] He sued the state’s textbook purchasing board and won because their rejection was not justifiable and that they denied Loewen his First Amendment rights of free speech and press.[4] Since then, Loewen has written many award-winning books, including Lies My Teacher Told Me and Lies Across America. Some of this author’s awards include the American Sociological…show more content…
Loewen explores many topics in which U.S. History textbooks mislead students, hide information, fail to discuss the topics at all, or flat-out give false information to their readers. He discusses some reasons and effects of this problem as well. In the first chapter, “herofication” is described as distorting a figure to become a “hero.” For instance, most people depict Helen Keller as an inspiration to everyone, but she was also a radical socialist and supported the Soviets’ cause. In the next ten chapters, Loewen takes the reader chronologically through history (and thus through history textbooks also), getting into the heart of the faults in these teaching and learning resources. From Christopher Columbus to the Pilgrims and Native Americans to the Civil War and slavery, all the way to the present, the author picks apart twelve textbooks, compares them, and shows they are racially and socially biased, and are written by similar authors. Finally, in the last two chapters, Loewen digs into why textbooks continue to teach history this way, and shows some of the effects of giving students the misinformation and lack of important information that our textbooks
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