Gerlovich Essay3

Submitted By LBJORK12
Words: 1336
Pages: 6

James Loewen takes a strong position on deficiencies concerning the teaching methods used in American History curriculums. It is necessary for teachers to speak the truth while covering alternative hypothesis of historical events. In order to make the most of any opportunity to teach and learn, we must understand the promotors and inhibitors of critical thinking and creativity that are in use today. This will allow teachers and students alike to make the most effective use of history and present day material in order to interact more seamlessly with reality. Loewen takes a specific stance on identifying shortfalls within the History discipline of American school systems. Loewen points out the linear model used in history books, and how they only shed light on part of the true history and leave out many facts and alternative theories as a means of promoting nationalistic goals within the United States. An example of Loewen’s point can be made by comparing different works that cover the famous “shot heard round the world”, which took place in 1775, and was regarded as the initiation of the Revolutionary War. Krepps (2013) writes in a History book that “Paul Revere, William Dawes, and Samuel
Prescott rode out to spread word that 700 British troops were headed for Concord,…and were met by 70 patriot minutemen who had drawn up in lines on the village green” (pg. 50). In stark contrast, another American historian by the name of Allen French (1937) wrote, “Revere warned Mitchel that the expedition was delayed and that five hundred provincials would soon be in Lexington” (pg. 3, 4). French also tells the story of only two riders; Revere and Dawes, versus the textbook’s version of three. While many would simply disregard the differences stated in each of the writings, I feel it is necessary to look at the situation unbiased, in order to discern the author’s intents. Krepps writes history books and has the goal of retention and mastery of a subject, while French is telling a story. French is more concerned with sharing with readers the specific thought process and smaller events that led up to, consisted of, and transpired afterward in an attempt to educate readers on why things happened the way that they did. I think French is teaching us something and is genuinely concerned about us learning about the people and actions that surrounded one of the most intriguing moments in American History. As for Krepps, history books are also full of “key terms”, “review questions”, and “famous quotes” so much that little emphasis is placed on the actual significance of a particular event. Loewen (1996) characterizes the problem in such a way, “At years end, no student can remember 444 main ideas, not to mention 624 key terms,…students and teachers fall back on one main idea; to memorize the terms for the next test, then forget them” (par. 13). It is the design of textbook writers to focus on a singular, linear historical past so they can support the U.S.’s position as pioneers and advocates of free-will and generosity. Think also how Americans would feel if for years we believed that our patriot force only faced 500 compared to 700. The difference in numbers helps Americans rationalize how brave and courageous we were that day. The difference in 2 versus 3 riders could also be used as a point to distinguish our superior thinking in regard to tactics and contingency plans.
I agree with Loewen that if textbooks provided students with equal amounts of information on the possibilities surrounding a particular event, then students would be compelled to conduct more research on their own; and in the end, be able to formulate their own opinion on what may have actually transpired. This type of interaction with the lesson, while simultaneously discussing different possibilities with teachers, results in a much deeper understanding and retention of the subject material. Sabin (1908) writes in an article that, “The history lesson should have three