How History Classes Helped Create a ‘Post-Truth’ America – Aug. 2, 2018 Atlantic Monthly article

As many people have noted, there’s much to be said for thinking critically about the past – and about the present also.

A previous post is entitled: Canadians and Their Pasts (2013). Digital Film-making (2014).

I thought about the above-noted March 5, 2014 post, when I read an Aug. 2, 2018 Atlantic Monthly article entitled: “How History Classes Helped Create a ‘Post-Truth’ America: The author of Lies My Teacher Told Me discusses how schools’ flawed approach to teaching the country’s past affects its civic health.”

An excerpt reads:

  • James W. Loewen: Not much has changed in my thinking, and that’s because I think I was right in the first place. What has changed has to do with our current intellectual era. History and social studies, as taught in school, make us less good at thinking critically about our past. For one, textbooks don’t teach us to challenge, to read critically – they are just supposed to provide exercises in stuff to learn. Secondly, the textbooks (and the people who teach from those textbooks) don’t teach causality. They aren’t designed to have students memorize anything about causality – what causes racism, for example, what causes a decrease in racism. That means that those of us who are more than 18 years old and are out of high school and voting may have never had anybody teach us anything about what causes what in society.

An additional excerpt reads:

  • By providing students an inadequate history education, Loewen argues, America’s schools breed adults who tend to conflate empirical fact and opinion, and who lack the media literacy necessary to navigate conflicting information.

Richard J. Evans and the writing of history

I’m reminded as well of a more recent post:

Message from Graeme Decarie: “Well, you can tell Peggy that If I had known then what I know now, my course would been been very different”

Other posts that come to mind include:

Reporter: A Memoir (2018) and Bring the War Home (2018) address history and legacy of Vietnam War

Richard J. Evans’s trilogy and related 2015 text offers a first-rate historical overview of Nazi Germany

My father’s photo album from 1936 Berlin Olympics prompts my reading of Richard J. Evans’s trilogy about Nazi Germany

Narrative helps us understand Germany in the 1930s (Richard J. Evans, 2004)

Do you recall the Oka crisis?

Legacy of the summer of 1990 Oka crisis

Erasure of history

The erasure of history is an ongoing project among contemporary authoritarian regimes. In this context, a Dec. 2, 2017 New York Times article, entitled “‘No Such Thing as Rohingya’: Myanmar Erases a History,” comes to mind.

Related concepts concerned with storytelling related to history are addressed in previous post entitled:

Erving Goffman’s “total institutions” warrant inclusion in a comprehensive theory of management


2 replies
  1. Graeme Decarie
    Graeme Decarie says:

    Very true. And my experience is that university professors are among the worst teachers i have ever seen.


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