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Sanitized History, Truth or Consequences

May 9, 2009

It takes a very long time to untie the mental ‘granny knot’ each country uses to tie up its citizens way of thinking.  When the same myth is taught long enough, it becomes common understanding, perceived to be truth.  It is easier to control a mass of humanity if they are  taught to see things in a similar way, in line with a political, or religious system needs.

Textbooks are the grandest propaganda of all.

Teaching sanitized and excerpted history reinforces common myths and misconceptions, about why and how things happen, remain daunting obstacles to progress.  Sanitized history, rife with state sponsored directives,  gives credence to treating some people differently than others.  Gives credence to stratifying people into classes, some more worthy than others.  Convolution, replacing evolution of human history, is a sloppy Granny Knot that is a very difficult social concept to untie. People stop learning when they are not encouraged to dig any deeper than the Book_Lies_My_Teacher_Told_Mesimple outline provided in class.  History’s lesson is perceived differently from the eye of  the beholders.  Understanding is very different if you are living an historical event than if you are merely observing.

James Loewen‘s Books are a source of controversy to accepted teaching history philosophy.  Better to describe them as a royal pain in the ass to textbook publishers.  Social consciousness evolves from simple concept to complex understanding.  It is much simpler to compartmentalize human history than to understand the multiple causes for human behavior on a personal and political level.

Lies Across America: What Our Historic Sites Get Wrong by James W. Loewen

In a world of communication with other cultures and other viewpoints available on the internet, television and telecommunications, there is no excuse to remain ignorant that the history you were taught had a deliberate tilt.  The world according to the whoever was in charge that day, seldom has veracity.

Readers of Largest U.S. History Textbooks Discover a Storehouse of Misinformation

A Textbook Case of Misinformation and Bias

An Introduction to Revisionism: The New American History Wars

September 24, 2003. Testimony of Gilbert T. Sewall, American Textbook Council, New York, New York, excerpted

The first history textbook problem is what educators, critics and journalists informally refer to as “dumbing down.” Many history textbooks reflect lowered sights for general education. They raise basic questions about sustaining literacy and civic understanding in a democratic polity and culture. Bright photographs, broken format and seductive color overwhelm the text and confuse the page. Typeface is larger and looser, resulting in many fewer words and much more white space. The text disappears or gets lost. Among editors, phrases such as “text-heavy,” “information-loaded,” “fact-based,” and “non-visual” are negatives. A picture, they insist, tells a thousand words.

This declining textbook quality is neither a right nor a left issue. Publishers are adjusting to short attention spans and non-readers. Too many children cannot or do not want to read history, which contains concrete facts and complicated concepts, reading that requires some facility with language. So textbooks become picture and activity books instead.

The second history textbook problem — increasing content bias and distortion — involves political judgments. The critique of distorted content in history is, of course, a problematic one. One person’s distortion is another’s correction. Yet the list of textbook activists grows. It spans gender, ethnic, religious, environmental and nutrition causes that want to use textbooks to advance their agendas.

The defenders of the revised history textbooks claim that textbooks used to be racist, sexist, ethnocentric, and jingo. Now they’re not. This is a political half-truth, a spurious and calculated claim, but it has been an effective one.

Publishers claim that they are only responding to state pressure and state standards. They say the state adoption process is already an open, public process. In fact, textbooks that states adopt may conform minimally and mechanically to state standards. State and local textbook adoption procedures rarely, if ever, address matters of style and textual quality. The main point of state review, as far as I can discern, is to comply with detailed guidelines for representation and to give pressure groups a chance to vent and bully.

Publishers should be producing cheaper books that are more text-centered, simpler in design, and more honest in content. They are failing to do so.

Meanwhile, a growing number of concerned educators and parents of all political stripes are asking for history textbooks that are easy-to-read and understand, that tell a story, that are compact, legible and accurate, that do not “jump around.” They want history textbooks free of the political pressure groups willing to corrupt schoolbook history in order to advance their single interest. The four giants in education publishing are ignoring these commendable efforts in order to maximize revenues.

Europe’s Philosophy of Failure By Stefan Theil

Millions of children are being raised on prejudice and disinformation. Educated in schools that teach a skewed ideology, they are exposed to a dogma that runs counter to core beliefs shared by many other Western countries. They study from textbooks filled with a doctrine of dissent, which they learn to recite as they prepare to attend many of the better universities in the world. Extracting these children from the jaws of bias could mean the difference between world prosperity and menacing global rifts. And doing so will not be easy. But not because these children are found in the madrasas of Pakistan or the state-controlled schools of Saudi Arabia. They are not. Rather, they live in two of the world’s great democracies — France and Germany.

What a country teaches its young people reflects its bedrock national beliefs. Schools hand down a society’s historical narrative to the next generation. There has been a great deal of debate over the ways in which this historical ideology is passed on — over Japanese textbooks that downplay the Nanjing Massacre, Palestinian textbooks that feature maps without Israel and new Russian guidelines that require teachers to portray Stalinism more favourably. Yet there has been almost no analysis of how countries teach economics, even though the subject is equally crucial in shaping the collective identity that drives foreign and domestic policies.

rushmoreGerman scholar contends that the Islamic text has been mistranscribed and promises raisins, not virgins

Education as Nationalist Ideology: U.S. Bilingual Education and the Indian History Textbook Controversy

History & Philosophy of Education

More on Fighting Bias in History Textbooks

AMERICAN INDIAN HISTORY – As told by American Indians

When Ideology Rules Us

Public education has become a form of thought control and textbooks have deleted from famous literature the very language which made the literature great, replacing forceful words with euphemisms, historical and fictional characters with proscribed dogmas of what the left believes that real life should be, and calculated excisions of vital knowledge as thorough as anything that Stalin’s toadies could have done in the black dungeon of totalitarianism.

We are all marked, almost as brutally as the Nazis marked Jews, Gypsies, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and homosexuals.  “Let me see your skin color, and I can tell if you are just.  Let me know your sex, and I can tell you if you are kind.  Tell me where how you seek God, and I will tell you if you are a bigot — and tell me nothing about you as ‘you,’ for you are a sociological construct.”

The truth is … there is no truth unless you are looking for it. If you don’t seek, you don’t care.  If you don’t care, then anyone can convince you about anything.  You are not born gullible, you are conditioned to be.  After your family and your church is your school.   Today’s education lacks enough emphasis on actually teaching people ‘how’ to learn.  Today, students must mimic back what the educational/political system wants to hear just enough to get them out of school.  What happens after that is up to the individual.

Bottom line, when we condition ourselves to stop seeking and learning, we quit growing (evolving), we lose our ability to adapt to an ever changing world.  Rigid thinking encouraged by dogma is not education.  Education does not stop at graduation from any teaching facility.  Education should lay the foundation for a personal quest for learning until the day we die.  Basing education on political or religious agenda is guaranteed to doom civilization.  This is a classic case of ‘truth or consequences’.  We experience those consequences every day.


The Seattle School Board Fails Seattle Kids

Legislature has obligation to Texas schoolchildren

Simply removing McLeroy, a dentist, from the chairmanship won’t be enough to bring sanity to a board that continues to bog down in discussions about whether creationism or intelligent design should be taught as part of the science curriculum, whether people play a significant role in global warming and whether the Earth is just a few thousand years old. Then there is the fact that some board members have made clear their distaste for public education and preference for home schooling.

Time and again, the board has ignored educators, Nobel laureates — and even the Legislature — in designing curriculum standards and selecting textbooks. When the Legislature curbed the board’s role in textbook selection, the board, led by social conservatives, exploited a loophole to continue editing content to suit their narrow perspectives.

Texas is not alone.  Many conservative states insist on curriculum determined by religious campaign contributors.  Churches own too many southern politicians who craft laws and education agendas as dictated by those wealthy churches.  Not just any churches, but those churches who use the dogma of fear to control the emotions and pocketbooks of their congregations.

“Why do I have to learn this stuff?” Misinformation and the American High-School Literature Textbook

Historians’ Fallacies : Toward a Logic of Historical Thought

Historical Methods and Interpretations

Tips for Teachers…

  1. March 17, 2010 6:24 pm

    Thank you Susan, I think you get it. History can be best described as a badly written Hi-Story.

  2. Susan Borkenhagen permalink
    March 17, 2010 12:38 pm

    Am I watching CNN or Fox News?
    This is another reason I no longer choose to watch your so called “news”.
    I was given the choice of having the background noise of an infomercial or listening to your show while I was washing my dog. Next time I’ll choose the infomercial.
    In response to the “New-History “(oxymoron…jumbo -shrimp, government intelligence, CNN-News, etc.) I believe that Texas should write its “New History” when they succeed in succeeding from the rest of the US. That’s where this story (and I mean “story”) belongs.


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