Lies my teacher taught me

Discussion in 'History Forum' started by Stratiotes, Sep 10, 2004.

  1. Stratiotes

    Stratiotes
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    I've been reading a very good book:

    _Lies My Teacher Told Me_, by James Loewen.

    Great stuff - and it provides some insight into why I think so many kids think history is boring. Having taught junior and senior high sunday school and helped with youth groups and having teens myself, I have found that teens seem naturally gifted at detecting a phony. Many history books are so concerned with painting things in a nice way and making it seem that history is always "progressing toward further enlightenment" that it becomes just that - phoney and irrelevant. If you are involved in teaching kids in any way - parent, teacher, pastor, whatever - you will enjoy this book. It may be slightly left-leaning at times to some but the truth is still the truth and its a lot better than telling lies to cover the distasteful truths.
     
  2. DavidsAngel

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    It's intresting, because that is why so many are bored in church. Because they try to make it "nice".

    You cannot take the blood out of history or the Bible. Without the blood you have no conflict, no purpose, you cannot explain a war unless you explain the lives lost. You cannot explain tyranny without explaining the horrors.

    It just cannot be done. Sure no one wants to see the blood, but you cannot ignore it either.
     
  3. Stratiotes

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    It is interesting that the truth really does set us free. Freedom cannot be maintained as long as we try to sugar coat and cover up where our country or its government was wrong. Lies do not make better citizens of young people - the truth sets them free, lies enslave them.

    In no other subject does more education tend to make students dumber in that subject than when they bgan as does the typical public education course in American history. Our good intentions of portraying our nation as always good creates a fantasy that kids can see right thru and it makes them quickly come to the conclusion that it has no relevance to the real world. History to them becomes nothing more than thinly veiled propaganda - as Mark Twain said:
    "The very ink with which all history is written is merely fluid prejudice."
     
  4. CoachC

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    I teach history in a public high school and I don't try to sugar coat anything. I do my best to provoke thought in my students.

    We live in an MTV generation where answers are quick and easy and problems are solved in between commercial breaks.

    History is an art as well as a science. I find a very positive correlation between love of reading and a love of history.

    I wrote a curriculum and I'm teaching a class called American History Through Sports. The Kids seem to enjoy history more when tied to something they can relate to. The relationships the kids are making between our sports history and the current events of the time have been really great for me as a teacher to see and really great for the kids.
     
  5. Stratiotes

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    CoachC - Great to hear from somebody in the trenches on the subject. I think you in particular would like the book. The author sounds like he's a green party nut at times but, for the most part, its a-political and very insightful.
     
  6. CoachC

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    It sounds like an interesting read.

    Sometimes you have to work very hard to remain objective about what you are teaching and what is going on in the world.

    My kids always ask me for my views on politics and I always tell them to come and see me before 815 or after 345 because in the classroom being objective is my goal.

    Speaking of Green party nuts, do you think Nader will play a role in this election?
     
  7. rsr

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    Sorry for my belated response, Stratiotes. Yes, I have read the book and still have it (though I can't find it right now.)

    It's an interesting read, though I think sometimes he takes revisionism to the extreme. Thought-provoking, though.

    My favorite part is his scathing attack on the concept of the "Dark Ages," a concept that now is foreign to modern scholarship. It just takes sooo long for such things to make it into the textbooks that so many consider a replacement for the study of real history.
     
  8. Joseph_Botwinick

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    I don't know who this guy's history teacher was, but my history teachers certainly didn't sugar coat the truth. History was presented as almost cyclical. There were times of great peace, industry, creativity, etc... And then there were times of great horrors as well. I can't think of a single teacher who tried to convince me that the world was getting better and better and more evolved and enlightened as time goes on. One would, in my mind, have a very hard time convincing me of that after thousands of years and still in the 20th and 21st centuries, we had Hitler, Saddam, OBL, and other unspeakable cruelties plague the earth. If anything, we are getting worse and worse as time goes by. Then again, I am certain that probably everyone from every generation feels that way when they are going through tense times in the world. And everyone believes they are living in the best of times when things are relatively better in the world. Perhaps, peoples perceptions about the state of history and the world is directly correlated to the time in which they live and how closely they lived to certain events in history. Who knows?
    It may be slightly left-leaning at times [/QUOTE]

    Somehow, I am not surprised.

    :D

    Joseph Botwinick
     
  9. Stratiotes

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    Actually, the book is a bit mis-titled since the author talks little about teachers so much as about the textbooks. The primary thread in the book is a comparison of 12 popular HS textbooks.
     
  10. Joseph_Botwinick

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    One good thing about my History teachers is that they rarely used the History books. They were the text books. We did much note taking from the over head projectors. The text books tended to be more of a supplemental idea than the main curriculum. My teachers also encouraged us to do our own research, participate in debates and class discussions.

    Joseph Botwinick
     
  11. Stratiotes

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    CoachC/Joseph, I think your experience is rather rare from what I've seen.
     
  12. CoachC

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    My textbooks are stacked on a table in my classroom we use them rarely at best. A teacher who uses strictly a textbook is a farely sorry individual IMHO.
     
  13. Dr. Bob

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    I required reading from texts and the class discussion on a paragraph or topic in that reading. And my lectures were supplemental.

    Tests had to include the material of the text (demanding reading/study) AND discussion areas.

    Usually OBJECTIVE from the text and SUBJECTIVE from some of the salient topics.

    But I'm a college prof, so vastly different than 8th grade US history! (Thank you, Jesus)
     
  14. Stratiotes

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    One difference in US public schools from college and most other countries is that teachers are not required to have a degree in the subject they teach. We could debate the good/bad in that but I think the down side is often that hte teacher may not have any desire to know anything more than what is required to give to the students. Some of my history teachers were great and really loved history - others didn't care that much about history and did not know what they did not know and therefore did not know what they needed to ask ;) .

    That is the real problem in any class (including some I've taught) - teachers who do not know where they are lacking. I think that, if you read the book that started this, you will find that you agree with more than what you disagree...especially if you have a passion for history.
     
  15. gb93433

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    So why did you spend the money to purchase them if you do not use them?

    When I taught I always required that the book be read, attend the lectures and labs. I always tested from the lab, book and lectures.

    If you don't expect much them, you don't get much back either. It's easy to keep them ignorant if you like. But it takes much greater skill to teach them well.
     
  16. gb93433

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    By comparison, how much do you spend on the education of your children compared to entertainment? The average person spends much more on entertainmentand complains about the schools.

    Before I taught I had a growing business and eventually left the business to teach in the same area of my business. When I first started teaching my rent was 1/2 of my take home pay. Even to this day if I had continued to teach and go up on the salary schedule I still would not qualify for any home in that same area. I would not even qualify for a buildable lot.

    When I taught I was given all kinds of awards. Teachers came to observe me from other schools, etc. But the lack of pay did not pay my bills. At the time I lived in an apartment where a number of welfare people lived.

    Is that what the U.S. thinks of its teachers?

    It's much like the people who complain about the farmer with their mouth full.

    If our school system is so bad why are so many coming from other countries to study here? I am in a doctoral program and 2/3 of the students are from other countries. Yet the high school and other schools are complaining about the lack of available qualified teachers.
     
  17. CoachC

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    gb,

    I use them from time to time and I use them as a source much of the time.

    I was stating that a teacher who only uses a text book and doesn't supplement from other scholarly sources is derelict in their duty.

    Also with the cost of textbooks I keep them in class and let the kids use them there and take them home as needed.

    I expect a lot of my students and I work my hind end off to keep teaching them. I'm pretty offended by the last part of your first post feel free to come to my classroom anytime pal and see how ignorant my kids are. I teach great kids everyday and I'll put my expectations and professionalism up against anybodys, anytime.
     
  18. Stratiotes

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    Of course, some would ask the alternative question of if they're so good then why are so many taking their kids out to put them in private schools and homeschool...but I wasn't trying to question teachers or school systems in the first place so I won't ask it ;) .

    And, if you'll note, I included myself in that post about where I think there is a weakness.

    On the matter of how much teachers are paid - I imagine any sane person would agree that they are underpaid for their contribution. But, then again, I would say our soldiers, sailors, airmen, nurses, are also grossly underpaid for their work....or, for that matter, any number of jobs. But, at the same time, I would also question the logic of how throwing more money at a problem automatically solves it. It isn't how much you spend, its how we spend it that will make the difference - just as in our personal budgets. Getting paid more does not make me any better or smarter. I understand your point but I'm not sure money is really the issue and I think its a very slippery slope to go down the route of arguing by way of relative values of occuppations (i.e., teachers ought to be paid more in line with what they provide to society - compared to an entertainer for example).

    Be careful too not to condemn a book without reading it and then missing out on something that you will likely find quite useful in your profession. As CoachC pointed out and I think you agree, we should not be relying only on our textbooks.
     
  19. The Galatian

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    Textbooks are the framework on which you hang your course. If they are any good at all, they accurately summarize the curriculum you use. But the life of a course is in the lectures (and labs, if you teach science), not the books.

    If I had to build a school, I would start with some decent teachers, tables and chairs, and go from there. Books are wonderful, even essential things for education. But most essential of all is a teacher who knows his subject, and can communicate his enthusiasm for it to the kids.
     
  20. Johnv

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    Actually, the requirements vary from state to state. In CA, teachers must have a bachelor's degree and be credentialed. The largest number of teachers without a degree in CA are in private Christian Schools. I had no idea until I dated a teacher (with a master's degree).
     

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