Tuesday, October 24, 2017

book, Lies my teacher told me

Note: I only finished reading the first 2 chapters. There are so many historical details that my brain is not ready to store. The key idea is that the winner tells the story to his favor. All the living human should be aware of that the history is not only about the glory heroine past, but also about the struggle and the brutal evolution. I read the 1st version. The 2nd version has included a few more textbooks and latest research.
lies my teacher told me, 1996, 2007
By James W.Loewen, whose Ph.D. in sociology from Harvard University is based on his research on Chinese Americans in Mississippi.
The book reflects Loewen’s belief that history should not be taught as straightforward facts and dates to memorize, but rather as analysis of the context and root causes of events. Loewen recommends that teachers use two or more textbooks, so that students may realize the contradictions and ask questions, such as, “Why do the authors present the material like this?”
Because textbooks employ such a godlike tone, it never occurs to most students to question them. “In retrospect, I ask myself, why didn’t I think to ask, e.g. who were the original inhabitants of the Americas, what was their life like, and how did it change when Columbus arrived. However, back then everything was presented as if it were the full picture, so I never thought to doubt that it was.”
sale figures are trade secrets.

1 handicapped by history: the process of Hero-making

Charles V. Willie
By idolizing those whom we honor, we do a disservice both to them and to ourselves.. we fail to recognize that we could go and do likewise.
The hidden history of Helen Keller advocate socialism and President Woodrow Wilson invaded South America.
Keller learned how the social class system controls people’s opportunities in life, sometimes determining even whether they can see.
I had once believed that we were all masters of our fate— that we could mold our lives into any form we pleased… But as I went more and more about the country I learned that I had spoken with assurance on a subject I knew little about. I forgot that I owed my success partly to the advantages of my birth and environment…
There are 3 great taboos in the textbook publishing: sex, religion, and social class. The notion that opportunity might be unequal in America is disliked by many textbook authors and teachers. Educators would much rather present Keller as a boring source of encouragement and inspiration to our young — if she can do it, you can do it!
A host of other reasons may help explain why textbooks omit troublesome facts:
  • pressure from the ruling class
  • pressure from textbook adoption committees
  • the wish to avoid ambiguities
  • a desire to shield children from harm or conflict
  • the perceived need to control children and avoid classroom disharmony
  • pressure to provide answers
We don’t want complicated icons. We seem to feel that a person like Helen Keller can be an inspiration only as long as she remains uncontroversial, one-dimensional.
Conclusions are not always pleasant. Most of us automatically shy away from conflict. We particularly seek to avoid conflict in the classroom.


textbooks don’t tell:
  • advances in military technology.
  • social technology: bureaucracy, double-entry bookkeeping, mechanical printing
  • ideological: collect wealth and dominate other people is positively valued as the key means of winning esteem. Pursuit of wealth as a motive for coming to American. Authors believe that to have America explored and colonized for economic gain is somehow undignified.
  • readiness to embrace a new continent is the particular nature of European Christianity. evangelization
  • Europe’s recent success in taking over and exploiting various island societies.
Deep down, our culture encourages us to imagine that we are richer and more powerful because we’re smarter. We are smarter so “it’s natural” for one group to dominate another.
Most important, his purpose from the beginning was not mere exploration or even trade, but conquest and exploitation, for which he used religion as a rationale.
When Columbus was selling Queen Isabella on the wonders of the Americas, the Indians were well built and of quick intelligence. They have very good customs, and the king maintains a very marvelous state, of a style so orderly that it is a pleasure to see it, and they have good memories and they wish to see everything and ask what it is and for what it is used. Later, when Columbus was justifying his wars and his enslavement of the Indians, they became cruel and stupid, a people warlike and numerous, whose customs and religions are very different from us.
It is always useful to think badly about people one has exploited or plans to exploit. Modifying one’s opinions to bring them into line with one’s actions or planned actions is the most common outcome of the process known as cognitive dissonance. No one likes to think of himself or herself as a bad person. We cannot erase what we have done, and to alter our future behavior may not be in our interest. To change our attitude is easier.

the truth about the 1st Thanksgiving

Humans evolved in tropical regions. People moved to cooler climates only with the aid of cultural inventions: clothing, shelter, and fire.
William McNeill reckons the population in 1492: Americans (100 M), Europe(70M). It is the plague that help European settlers dominate the population over the centuries.
In 1970, Wamsutta Frank James went to Plymouth and declared Thanksgiving day a National Day of Mourning for Native Americans.
The true history of Thanksgiving reveals embarrassing facts. The Pilgrims did not introduce the tradition; Eastern Indians had observed annual harvest celebration for centuries. Our modern celebrations date back only to 1863 during the civil war when the Union needed all the patriotism.
The antidote to feel-good history is not feel-bad history, but honest and inclusive history. If textbook authors feel compelled to give moral instruction, they could accomplish this aim by allowing student to learn both the good and the bad sides of the Pilgrim tale. The conflict would then become part of the story, and students might discover that the knowledge they gain has implications for their lives today.