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Megan Giles Philosophy 102 December 11, 2011 Chapter 12 Essay

The interview with James Loewen relates to chapter 12 in Logic and Contemporary Rhetoric because both Loewen and the authors of Logic agree that textbooks, more specifically history, science and social studies textbooks, are not adequately teaching grade school students. In history books, historical events that are not flattering to the country are sometimes told in a “cleaned up” version and are more often left out entirely. Loewen refers to the type of history being taught to high school students as “white washed.” History books also do not show pictures of what war really does to our soldiers and do not list statistics of historical value, for instance how many American and Iraqi casualties have resulted so far from the war that we are currently fighting. Science textbooks can create controversy if they include material about evolution. Even worse is the fact that some science textbooks do not want controversy so they omit evolution! Social studies textbooks have a lot of the same failings of history textbooks, namely “cleaning up” unflattering events. Social studies textbooks have also gone too far with a good thing by trying to be more multicultural. Now, in an effort not to offend any culture, they feature items that have little importance in an effort to give each culture equal coverage. A problem with some of today’s textbooks that both the interview and our textbook refer to is that they are very long, dull books that simply list fact after fact after fact which

causes students to lose interest, not read the textbook at all or not be able to distinguish important facts from facts of lesser import. These textbooks often cover way too much material and treat each fact as if they are all of the same importance. Textbooks like I have described do not promote critical thinking. They inundate students with facts to have them memorize and then regurgitate. Loewen points out that the way history is taught to high school students leads to less prepared citizens. He states that stronger citizens come from teaching the dirt and the glory. He says that students should be taught the truth not nationalism. I agree with his reasoning. We must be informed of the mistakes of the past. When students learn that horrible things have happened in the past they are more likely to think about their own actions. For instance, teaching a student about the holocaust, showing them pictures of how badly some Jews suffered may cause that student to reflect on some of his or her actions that were based in prejudice. Loewen said something very interesting to me in the interview about the fact that when anything bad is mentioned in a history textbook it is mentioned in a passive way, like no one did it, it just happened. I agree with Loewen’s idea of teaching with a textbook but openly critiquing its omissions and putting important facts in context. This would allow students to gain appropriate knowledge in their course and challenge them to not simply believe everything in a single textbook is everything on that subject. I believe it would inspire students to supplement their education on their own about events they would like more information on. It also is very inspiring for a student to hear that a teacher is going

against the textbook instead of dully reading facts from a textbook all day. An animated teacher who wants students to learn and is excited about what they are teaching, in my case at least, always achieves greater results. One example of a historical event that tends to be left out of history textbooks is during World War II when the government ordered all people of Japanese descent to go to internment camps. I read a book years ago called Tallgrass by Sandra Dallas, a novel where this event is central to the storyline. I was absolutely stunned and asked my father if these things really happened. He told me that he remembered when it did happen and he told me about Americans’ intense hatred and harsh treatment of the Japanese at this time. If I would have learned this in school it would not have been such a devastating blow to me. Learning this piece of history the way that I did made me feel very badly about my country not only for doing these things but for (what I felt was) covering it up! I believe that it is crucial to be taught the truth. I think knowing the truth about things allows people to realize great mistakes that happened in the world and how to not let them happen again. When we do not know what is going on around us how can we make safe choices? In my opinion the government would gain more trust and patriotism from me if I was told the truth rather than some white washed version that makes me distrust every other fact that lies in the same textbook.

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