James Loewen to open Filson conference in Louisville

Historians in the News

The guest speakers and attendees of the upcoming Filson Institute Academic Conference had better be on their best historically accurate behavior, because James Loewen will be in the house....

He recently responded to e-mailed questions.

It's been 15 years since “Lies My Teacher Told Me” was published. You concluded that there wasn't one textbook that did a decent job of making history interesting or memorable. Have things changed since then?

Not really. One book, or rather book series, Joy Hakim's “A History of US,” does make history interesting, but it is not a regular textbook and is put out by Oxford University Press. No textbook publisher publishes an interesting textbook in U.S. history for K-12. None includes footnotes.

Do you still recommend that instructors use two history textbooks to better provide students with different perspectives and facts?

Yes. A handful of historians have tried to get me to join them in writing a new history textbook, more accurate, more interesting. I refuse, because if I did, with the substantial following I now have among teachers, owing to the success of “Lies My Teacher Told Me,” some teachers would adopt my textbook and “teach it.”

I don't think teachers should “teach” any book. They should teach history! The textbook is a tool to help them. But they should not “teach” the textbook.

If they adopt my book, “Lies My Teacher Told Me,” plus one of the (boring) textbooks, then students have two points of view and must think for themselves....

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