Beware of false history textbooks

I read an interesting article this morning, which I found because someone had tweeted that site’s previous article about altered history textbooks. Fascinating, and scary, stuff!

It makes me really wonder what books to believe, and what I should be teaching my children!

But then, I’ve had this discussion before on the Secular Charlotte Mason yahoogroup (LOVE that group, by the way!)…about how history is frequently altered in books and how its all really quite subjective.

Have you seen the “Lies” books by author James W. Loewen? He’s someone who really seems to know his history. I have checked out several of these books from our local library and perused them. Making a mental note to purchase my own copy ASAP. (Haven’t yet, sigh, but I intend to!)  There’s much to be learned here.

I emailed Mr. Loewen and asked if he had any lists of recommended books that tell a more accurate historic truth and his reply:

Can only reply hastily. end of ea. ch. in TWRH has a very short list of recs. incl. websites also note the footnotes in LMTTM Lots of home schoolers have their kids read LMTTM. Best wishes — Jim L. James W. Loewen, best email address: jloewen@uvm.edu

SO! An even better reason to buy his books, eh? Smile

According to my good friends at the SecularCM list mentioned above…We shouldn’t entirely throw out all current history books and texts. Keep on using what we have, but make sure you talk to your kids about how history lessons should all be taken with a grain of salt. History is just not an objective subject. It’s very personal…and the best way to get a well-rounded picture is to bring many different first-hand accounts (as possible) into your children’s hands, with different views of the same events, as possible. I will continue to post good ones as I find them.

I’m all for biographies…they surely do make history more interesting. And that’s the Charlotte Mason way….living books. I’m very much for CM and living books, so this is the direction I try to go with my own children.

However, I do think that history also gains a lot of life when it is dramatized as well. The “Liberty Kids” cartoon series, which I wrote about recently, has created an interest in the Revolutionary War for my children, and I’m using it as a stepping stone to a lot more American history…I’d love to know of any similar series that you might know about!

I’ve also received a free copy of “The Story of Us” (an offer by the History Channel but it looks like its no longer available…but the good news is that its available on instant view at Netflix!) And will review this once I get a chance to finally watch it all. (I put it on and it immediately showed some violent war content, and I decided my kids were not ready for it yet…so I have been meaning to preview it in private, but misplaced it in my mess of a living room! sigh such is the life of a homeschool mom, eh?)

There’s also the Schoolhouse Rock series, America Rock. Looks like all the videos are available on YouTube! I found an online list of all their episodes, and the only one they seem to be missing is “The Presidential Minute”

I think the key with history is VARIETY. Lots of views of the same events…and keep it all interesting.

I have only just begun to explore history with my children…There is so much more out there yet for me to discover! I will write as I find more great stuff to share!

2 comments

  1. I recommend “History Lessons: How Textbooks from Around the World Portary U.S. History” (Lindaman and Ward, 2004) for a pretty eye-opening experience. The title is pretty self-explanatory: the authors provide transcriptions (and translations) of examples of text about events in American history from textbooks published outside of the U.S. Reading through this collection one gets a very vivid lesson about historiography if not history: history doesn’t just happen in a vaccum and events are interpreted within wildly different cultural constructs, including our own. We can sometimes argue about what is not true, but how can we determine what is true if the very act of observation alters the individual experience? Easy to read in snippets, and a great jumping off-point for lots of discussions!

    http://www.amazon.com/History-Lessons-Textbooks-Around-Portray/dp/1595580824

  2. I also keep handy a copy of “The Words We Live By: Your Annotated Guide to the U.S. Constitution” (Monk, 2003). (Plagerizing myself from an earlier post somewhere else), Monk goes through every word of the Constitution and the Ammendments and provides specific details about the social movements, court cases, legislation, international concerns, etc. that led to each Article, Section and clause, as well as new concerns that prompted clarification and re-interpretation over time. I think it’s pretty comprehensive and well-balanced. I’d like to know if others agree or not. It’s also just fun reading, with lots of quick references to literature, art and popular culture as they relate to the Constitution. I really appreciate this book.

    http://www.amazon.com/Words-Live-Annotated-Constitution-Stonesong/dp/0786867205

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