The March Philosophy Book of the Month is Final Notice by Van Fleisher. Discuss Final Notice now.

The April Philosophy Book of the Month is The Unbound Soul by Richard L. Haight

Discussion of Lies My Teacher Told Me

We choose one book per month to read and discuss philosophically as a group.

January 2019 Philosophy Book of the Month: The Runaway Species: How Human Creativity Remakes the World by David Eagleman and Anthony Brandt

February 2019 Philosophy Book of the Month: The Fourth Age: Smart Robots, Conscious Computers, and the Future of Humanity by Byron Reese (Nominated by RJG)

March 2019 Philosophy Book of the Month: Final Notice by Van Fleisher

April 2019 Philosophy Book of the Month: The Unbound Soul: A Visionary Guide to Spiritual Transformation and Enlightenment by Richard L. Haight
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Scott
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Discussion of Lies My Teacher Told Me

Post by Scott » November 28th, 2009, 2:24 pm

I apologize I didn't post this thread is late. Please use this thread to discuss one of our previous books of the month, Lies My Teacher Told Me by James W. Loewen. Please read the book before participating in this thread.

What do you think of the book? Would you recommend it?

A few years ago, I posted a brief review of the book.

I love it. I think it does a great job at showing how political correctness, the avoidance of controversy by history textbook sellers and biases cause history books in US public schools to create a racist, classist, boring account of history as dry facts and unrealistically heroified characters.

How could we expect a Native American to perform as well in a history class that works so hard to downplay the genocide against his ancestors and celebrates the violent savage Christopher Columbus?

Martin Luther King becomes an angelic character rather than someone who would have committed adultery. Thomas Jefferson and George Washington become simple, perfect, fictional heroes, not controversially realistic slave-owning, sexist elitists who like any real person can be debated, criticized for some things and celebrated for others. History becomes a boring, pro-American, pro-white, pro-wealthy fairy tale.

What do you think?
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Post by Juice » November 29th, 2009, 10:02 pm

I doubt there is any need to go into a case by case comparative study of Loewen's book, frankly most of what he discusses is really nothing new as any serious historian can attest to. In fact I found his discussion rather mediocre, information that can be had in most serious biographies and period accounts. Most of his discussions are relegated to high school lessons which if one attends university and exposed to those matters are quickly ironed out. Mostly the blame for inaccuracies are more the result of time and expense savings and probably laziness by greedy capitalist. While interesting Loewen's book did not generate any real purposeful look into history texts for accuracy since it is no national outrage on how little people know of history when so many are failing at basic skills like reading and arithmetic. This failure in history acumen extends even to those doctors, engineers and scientist who want to know as little as possible outside of their own fields. And even while it may serve some propagandist purpose I doubt very many high schoolers delve seriously into politics until hormones settle down a bit.
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Lies My Teacher Told Me

Post by Chevonneathena » December 20th, 2009, 4:00 pm

Juice, you basically make the point for the purpose of that book."Most of his discussions are relegated to high school lessons which if one attends university and exposed to those matters are quickly ironed out." Most people do not attend a university and as a result the lies are never 'ironed out'. Even if they do go to a university most do not sign up for history unless they either have to, or they like history and in that case probably already know the truth. I was never really a fan of history class and usually learned enough just to take my tests, but Ive been reading Loewen's book and can't put it down. I NEVER knew how inhumane Christopher Columbus was and as I discussed with many people my age and older they too were shocked to find out the truth and this group included those who went to universities."...doubt very many high schoolers delve seriously into politics until hormones settle down a bit." So, since they are just high schoolers are you saying they're young let them be lied to they don't know any better? Again, that is the point of the book. Maybe high schoolers would be more attentive if the truth of history was being told instead of the cookie cutter, happy go lucky versions that are full of misconceptions. But, just because they are young doesn't mean it's ok for what is being taught to the them, if anything it's worse. They don't know any better to challenge what they are being taught. It's sad there have been no other posts on this topic.

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Post by Juice » December 20th, 2009, 8:56 pm

The problem is not with either distorting history or conflated historicity, the problem is with a lax and agenda driven education system which doesn't teach students how to think for themselves but what to think, and also preys on the student?teacher, parent/child trust relationships.

Inhumanity based on historical inferences is subjective, and usury is an art which was honed and perfected throughout the ages, until we see it today in its current manifestation to which ordinary men still succumb in the same way as over 500 years ago.

As far as students go one cannot get water from a stone, and it is better to teach children to be men and woman of good character, at least IMV, since the desires of each individual varies by levels and degrees. So students get a taste of everything and those who latch onto a particular will know what is true from what is not as it suits them, and benefits them. Columbus was no different than any other man of his day which is something we should recognize today. How else do we understand the difference?

While I find the story of Columbus intriguing I knew the truth of it since before high school having gotten into the history of the American Indian from spending time in a library, a past time long forgotten thanks to the internet and the dumbing down of America, which doesn't matter if one doesn't find a counter balance to the equal insidious of any side consisting of more than two, who should at the very least be husband and wife in order to be productive. To this end I direct you to, 48 Liberal Lies about American History (that you probably learned in school), Larry Schweikart. And the circle never closes. So beware, and never trust anyone over 40 as the old sixties mantra proclaimed.

Why would anyone of any intelligence take anyones word for anything, particularly if it is meant to evoke a reaction(ary). If something is truly important don't wait for someone with a political agenda to come along and tell you what you should believe!!:wink:

I shouldn't have to worry about politics in high school to the extent that it becomes all consuming, but recognize that the teacher may well have a political agenda to serve.
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Post by Scott » December 21st, 2009, 11:15 pm

I don't think schools have much of a certain political agenda, at least not one that would be explainable by the 1-dimensional left-right political spectrum. I do not think that is the source of the lies and misrepresentations being taught to children--which as Loewen explains leads to the achievement gap between rich and poor and between whites and non-whites. I believe what Loewen posits as the cause of the boringness, the lies and the suppression of atrocities and of disheartening activities of the nation, its government and its heroes; That is commercialism in the textbook industry and controversy-avoidance in local districts. The most common textbooks are to history what McDonald's is to food and what Britney Spears is to art. It's what appeals to the common denominator--not what is healthy, good or true. Authors and producers could make a textbook that is truthful, that is engaging not boring, that is conducive to education and that would not cause as much of an achievement gap, OR the authors and producers can make a textbook that sells. Needless to say, they make the ones that sell and those are the ones that end up in the schools. What is said about the textbooks and those who make them can be said about the history curricula in general and those who come up with that.

You won't learn the truth in grade school or find an exciting education. As Juice said, you have to go to the library for that.
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Post by Juice » December 25th, 2009, 12:53 pm

Regardless of, and IMV the simplistic, ideals presented in these books which instead of attempting to encourage interest in the value of history, only, as I stated, serve to promote propaganda.

There are far greater myths perpetuated through the advent of thought control, which in its essence only serve to encourage no thoughts at all, at least on an individual basis, and when one gets enough individuals willing to let others think for them then it really doesn't matter what myth is perpetuated unless we understand the underlying principles to advancing a particular ideology and how that is best served in a society where governance is an accepted reality except in terms of the levels and degrees of governance which advance and perpetuate whichever level and degree of governance can perpetuate whichever myths serves those interests.

We live in an age of political myth making encroaching on Orwellian proportions without accepting that our very freedoms are at stake. While it may seem entertaining to expose letters and words as fallible what difference is it when we are told what to think by infallible terms.

Saying that if we do not head history we are doomed to repeat it is hogwash when we still don't understand that by each second and minute new history is created as we just sit back and wait for history to catch up to old ideas.

And, we have not, as yet defined freedom, and if we think that we have by believing that there will always be someone to tell us that 1+1=2, when we should be free to realize that we are able to figure that out for ourselves, since the way things are going there will soon be someone to tell us 1+1=3, and we wont even care that there is a difference.
When everyone looks to better their own future then the future will be better for everyone.

An explanation of cause is not a justification by reason.
C. S. Lewis

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Post by athena » December 29th, 2009, 11:48 am

It is a little late to post a reply, but there are good reasons for books presenting the people of history as heroes. Destroying our national heroes has had the same effect on our country, as it had on Germany, when the Prussians took control, centralized public education and destroyed German's heroes, then praised efficiency, establishing a Military Industrial Complex and prepared the young to serve it.

I am not arguing right and wrong here, but that of which we are not aware, can destroy our liberty.

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