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Posted April 18, 2011
This is a great book for current or aspiring teachers. The overall message of the book is that teachers should get away from the practice of teaching from the textbook. Loewen describes the many fallacies and even lies that many textbooks continue to perpetuate, including their obvious lack of awareness of the multicultural student audience that makes up our schools in America today. Making the point that social studies teachers should take responsibility for their students' learning by teaching the important topics in U.S. history without the crutch of a textbook, he suggests that teachers choose 30-50 topics from the curriculum that have meaning to both the teacher's and the students' lives. By selecting larger topics, or "trees" as he calls them, students can grasp the importance of historical events and how they are relevant to each other and present day events.
The obvious implication from this book for educators is that we as teachers should not be content to take textbooks at their word and should instead create our own curriculum that excites us and that is relevant to the students. The importance of teachers being excited about the content they are teaching should not be underestimated, as Loewen describes the role model effect that a teacher has on a student who is learning about history. Another suggestion he makes is that history teachers should not be afraid to tackle the difficult topics like slavery, race relations and the American Indian experience. Instead, teachers should work to educate students as much as possible about those topics, so that they can make better informed decisions in their own lives with a more complete and accurate understanding of what happened in the past to create the world we know today.
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Posted May 28, 2012