Lies My Teacher Told Me by James Loewen, Article Review Essay

Published: 2022-08-05
Lies My Teacher Told Me by James Loewen, Article Review Essay
Type of paper:  Article review
Categories:  American history
Pages: 3
Wordcount: 735 words
7 min read

James Loewen in his article titled Lies my teacher told me published in New York argues about the importance of reading history books that do not give false optimism to modern American generations. He compares modern scientific and technological society with traditional societies studied in history books. The main argument by James is that scientific and technological development cannot be assumed to provide solutions for the challenges the world faces today for example diseases and pollution. Students should be encouraged to study history and anthropology to understand how traditional societies and learn from them. In agreement with James Loewen, the future is not bright as portrayed by book publishers and we are likely to experience more challenges that can only be resolved by looking back and understanding historical and traditional communities (Loewen 251).

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The American history books assure students that the future is great based on institutions and values of the American people. History textbooks have an optimistic ending that creates false hope in the minds of students as a result of increased economic and technological growth compared to the traditional American society (Loewen 249). James Loewen argues that at the end of the 18th and 19th century, the American population was constantly fed with information that the future is bright. However, he gives an example of how science and technology had affected the American society. He states that the American pageant records gave examples of increased automobiles and television sets and which Americans liked because it conforms to their idea of progress as a society an idea conditioned by history books. The book writers according to James Loewen do not dare focus on the negative effects of these technological developments on the environment like air pollution ((Loewen 251). He also gives an example of how Early colonial settlers were shocked to see Indians living to see their third or fourth generation while in England which had experienced great improvement in science and technology, most people were unable to attain such age. He links scientific and technological development to diseases and shorter lifespan compared to traditional American societies that were largely agrarian (Loewen 261).

Research carried out in modern societies collaborate with James Loewen's argument indicating that science and technology lead to the destruction of environment causing diseases and high mortality rate. However science and technological development have too led to increased cure and solution many challenges that the human race faced in the past, for example, we have more drugs that help cure a lot of diseases. Technological and scientific development has made life easier compared to how life was in the past. We have faster trains and aircraft that link the whole world (Levstik et al., 46).

James Loewen in his article argues that History and social science could help open students to cultures from other communities. According to him, ethnocentric faith guided by science and technology has been disastrous to the world. It has led to Stalinism and the Holocaust (Loewen 261). Traditional women understood the importance of breastfeeding a baby but the modern women courtesy of technological and scientific development do not breastfeed the newborns. James Loewen disagrees with modern scholars who say the future is better for American people while completely ignoring the fact that traditional societies were better and much can be learned from them. It is common knowledge that Students from the 20th century onwards view history studies as irrelevant compared to scientific and technological studies. This can be attributed to bad ending s of books written for high school students who portly the future as bright instead of outlining the challenges that lie ahead. With this, the students cannot be blamed for ignoring history studies in favor of scientific and technological studies according to Loewen (Loewen 263).


In agreement with James Loewen arguments, in as much as technological and scientific development has made life easier for the modern generations, it has also brought about more challenges that were not experienced by the traditional societies that had a longer lifespan with fewer diseases as a result of environmental pollution. History and social studies should be equally important as scientific studies for students.

Works cited

Levstik, Linda S., and Keith C. Barton. "Why don't more history teachers engage students in interpretation?." Social Studies Today. Routledge, 2015. 45-52.

Loewen, James W. Lies my teacher told me: Everything your American history textbook got wrong. The New Press, 2008.

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